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Age Discrimination In the Workplace

Age Discrimination In the Workplace

As an older employee with your company, were you pressured to retire earlier than you’d have liked?  If so, you may be the victim of age discrimination.  The experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline are here to help.

What Constitutes Age Discrimination?

According to the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967, both applicants and employees over the age of 40 are protected from workplace bias based on age.  In the state of Illinois, any employer with a regular staff of 15 or more employees must adhere to the guidelines regarding age discrimination.

This applies, but is not limited to, the following situations:

  • Compensation;
  • Job assignment;
  • Promotion;
  • Layoff;
  • Training;
  • Benefits;
  • Job assignments; and
  • Firing.

My Employer Claims I was Let Go Due to a Necessary Reduction-in-Force

Any employer may face financial challenges and resort to a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) to protect the financial solvency of the company.  This becomes a discriminatory issue if older workers are impacted disparately.  In such a case, it would be incumbent upon the employer to show that the RIF achieves the identified purposes.  Additionally, this practice would be deemed discriminatory unless it is justified by a “reasonable factor other than age.”  Here, the individual making the challenge as to the unlawfulness of the action bears the burden of proof.

How Do I Know Whether or Not the RIF in My Company Was Discriminatory?

If the company doesn’t have clear criteria for determining who will be laid off, there is a possibility discrimination may be a factor.  But how do you know?  Often companies will offer a severance agreement in exchange for an employee’s waiver of a discrimination claim.  When this occurs, the employee has 21 days to appraise the agreement.  If two or more employees are being laid off, that stretches to 45 days.  Even after signing this document, an employee has up to seven days to withdraw from the agreement.  As part of the agreement, employers are required to share information regarding the ages and job titles of anyone laid off.  What might make an employee suspicious that discrimination has been a factor in the lay-offs?   If the numbers show that predominantly older employees are leaving the company, it could be a red flag.

I Believe the Higher Costs of Insuring Me Impacted the Company’s Decision to Force Me Out

Older workers may not be targeted due to the increased costs of their benefits.  The “equal benefits or equal cost” rule outlined in the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) of 1990 clarifies that the employer payout for workers of all ages must be equivalent.  Essentially, an employer may support all employee health-care with a particular dollar amount, even if certain workers may then be required to contribute higher personal co-pays.  An employer may not, however, deign that older employees be removed from the insurance pool so as to create a less costly group to insure.

I Believe I’ve Been Subject to Age Discrimination in the Workplace. What Should I Do Now?

Navigating the world of business law and discrimination suits can be a tricky business.  You want experience and integrity on your side.  Call the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline in Chicago to get the help you deserve.

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