Very few Illinois employers will engage in systematic, obvious acts of age discrimination against employees. You will not likely hear “Sorry, you are too old to hire” in an interview. Do not expect to be told “We are replacing you with a younger employee” when you are terminated. Conduct that amounts to age discrimination is much subtler, but the implications for an older employee are no less real. If you believe you were discriminated against because of your age, it is critical to discuss your situation with an Illinois employment attorney right away. However, because this area of law can be difficult to understand, an Illinois age discrimination fact sheet should be useful.
- Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), it is illegal to discriminate on account of age at any stage of the employment process, including hiring, onboarding, promotions, salary increases, and terminations.
- The ADEA also makes it unlawful for other employees, managers, supervisors, and others in the workplace to engage in age-based harassment.
- The ADEA applies to all employers with at least 20 regular employees. However, the Illinois Human Rights Act, which also prohibits age discrimination, applies to employers with 15 employees. Therefore, Illinois employees enjoy greater protections under state law.
- According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that handles age-related matters, claims of age discrimination have risen over the years. The EEOC resolved 29,868 claims from 2004-2005, compared to 45,024 from 2016-2017.
- Since the US Supreme Court’s finding in the 2009 case of Gross v. FBL, it is more difficult for age discrimination plaintiffs to prevail in court. A claimant must demonstrate that age discrimination is the motivating factor in an employer’s decision to terminate, layoff, or demote. This elevates the level of proof as compared to other forms of discrimination.
- It is legal for employers to ask the age of employees and job candidates, or to inquire about a graduation date from college or high school. Again, this concept makes it more difficult to prove age discrimination as opposed to discrimination based upon gender, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and other protected statuses.
What You Can Do
There are some challenges with age discrimination cases because of the complexities and distinctions between federal and state laws. However, you do have legal recourse, so:
- Create a written record of any remarks, hints, or other acts that suggest age discrimination. Note the actor and describe all circumstances surrounding the situation.
- Refer to your employer’s policies regarding discrimination and grievances, if any. Filing a claim or lawsuit may not be to your advantage if there are other options to address discriminatory conduct.
- Consult with an Illinois age discrimination attorney about filing a claim with the proper federal or state agencies, or potentially initiating litigation.
Our Chicago Employment Attorneys Can Help
Age discrimination cases are more complex as compared to other discrimination matters, as there are challenges and higher levels of proof necessary to establish your claim. An experienced Illinois employment lawyer can tell you more about your rights and offer advice on your options. Please contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline for additional information or to schedule a case review.