Chicago Age Discrimination Lawyer

Chicago Age Discrimination Lawyer

Most Millennials are now over 40. So, they are in a protected class under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Companies routinely flaunt this law. Many bosses look to replace older and more expensive workers with younger and cheaper workers at every opportunity. Age discrimination is more common than ever, mostly because these claims are harder to prove than ever, thanks to a recent Supreme Court case. More on that below.

The compassionate Chicago age discrimination lawyers at the Law Office of Mitchell Kline understand what these workers are going through. Many of the people on our professional team have felt the sting of age discrimination. This compassion motivates us to work extra hard to obtain the compensation age discrimination victims need and deserve. 

Building a Case

A prima facie (preliminary) case is the first step toward maximum compensation in an employment discrimination matter. The case itself only has two elements: membership in a protected class and adverse action. As mentioned, protections in the ADEA apply to workers over 40. The adverse action could be almost anything before, during, or after the employment relationship, such as:

  • Inappropriate interview questions, perhaps even asking for college graduation dates,
  • Refusal to hire,
  • Refusal to promote,
  • Denial of business opportunities,
  • Benefit or pay cuts,
  • Denial of privileges, and
  • Issuing bad references after termination.

Next, employers may give discriminatory neutral reasons for their adverse actions. The boss might claim lack of qualifications prompted the refusal to hire, or a poor work record triggered a benefit or pay cut.

A Chicago age discrimination lawyer may then prove this “neutral reason” was a pretext for discrimination. 

Non-protected class adverse action is a good example. If 41-year-old Sid got a pay cut and 39-year-old Tim, who was hired at about the same time, does about the same job, and has about the same record, did not get a pay cut, the rationale rings hollow.

Smoking guns, like emails referring to older workers, are even more effective. Attorneys usually uncover such evidence during discovery, a process that occurs relatively late in the life cycle of a lawsuit. So, if a case settles too early, the best evidence, and therefore maximum compensation, may be unavailable.

Obtaining Compensation

The aforementioned Supreme Court case requires age discrimination plaintiffs to prove that bias was the primary factor, as opposed to a substantial factor, in the adverse action. As a result, circumstantial evidence age discrimination cases often have limited settlement values.

Most age discrimination claims, and most civil claims in general, settle out of court. If all issues in the case are perfectly clear, the claim may settle almost immediately. However, as outlined above, employment discrimination claims are rarely straightforward. Defendants use these complexities as an excuse to drag their feet.

Age discrimination claims usually have short statutes of limitations in Illinois. Therefore, to protect the plaintiff’s legal rights and also to pressure the defendant into a settlement, many attorneys file legal paperwork sooner rather than later.

This filing generally triggers a mandatory mediation requirement. Once discovery, the process mentioned above, is complete, the judge usually appoints a mediator. This professional listens to brief arguments from both sides and then tries to bring the plaintiff and defendant together on financial settlement terms.

Both sides have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith during this process. As a result, mediation is about 90% successful.

Count on a Diligent Cook County Attorney

Job bias victims have legal options in Illinois. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago age discrimination lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. We routinely handle matters throughout Chicagoland.