As an employee or potential job candidate, it’s important to understand your legal rights. Employees are protected by law against discrimination. In the event an employer breaks any of the laws and an employee suffers as a result, that employer can be held accountable through an employment law claim.
In the United States, employees are protected from various forms of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. That Act, however, does not protect employees from age discrimination. In the event you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your age, our lawyers can explain the applicable laws and help you seek justice. Let’s take a look at what age discrimination employment policies are in place in West Virginia.
What Is Age Discrimination?
Ageism is the act of stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. Examples of age discrimination in the workplace include the following:
- Not getting hired because the employer wanted a younger-looking person to do the job
- Receiving a negative job evaluation for not being “flexible” in taking on new projects
- Being fired because the boss wanted to keep younger workers who are paid less
- A company announcing layoffs, but only laying off older employees
- Having an employer make age-related remarks
If you’ve experienced any of those situations or a different situation you feel should be labeled as age discrimination, it’s important to understand the state and federal laws that apply to your situation. You can use the basis of the laws to prove your employer discriminated against you because of your age.
State and Federal Laws Against Age Discrimination
In 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was set in place to protect individuals over the age of 40 from employment discrimination based on age. Workers are covered by the Act if their employer regularly employs 20 or more employees. Under that law, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for opposing discriminatory employment practices, include age preferences in job notices or advertisements, or force retirement—except in a few narrow situations.
In addition to the federal laws, age discrimination laws are also in place at the state level. In West Virginia, the West Virginia Human Rights Act protects employees and prohibits age discrimination in employment for employees who are older than 40.
The state also has a “substantially younger” rule. This means that age discrimination can be proven if an employee was replaced with someone who is considerably younger than them—even if the new employee is over the age of 40. Previously, West Virginia followed the “over40/under40” rule, which made it difficult to show age discrimination if the replacement employee was older than 40.
Filing a Discrimination Claim in West Virginia
To file a successful age discrimination employment claim in West Virginia, you need to be able to show you are older than 40, your employer made an adverse decision concerning you, and that that decision would not have been made if you had been under the age of 40.
You have the option of filing the claim with either the West Virginia Human Rights Commission or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It’s important to note that according to the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, all complaints must be filed within 365 days of the alleged discrimination.
Your complaint has to contain the following information:
- Your name, address, and phone number
- The alleged basis for the discrimination
- A summary of the alleged discriminatory behavior
- The name and address of the person, employer, or entity alleged to have engaged in the discriminatory behavior
Once you and your lawyer have filed your claim, an Intake Officer will draft a formal complaint and the alleged discriminatory party has to issue a position statement. An investigator will review the facts of the case to determine if there are grounds for litigation. In most cases, the Human Rights Commission tries to complete the investigation in 180 days. Once their decision is made, you and your lawyer will decide if you need to pursue further legal action to obtain justice.
Fight for Your Rights Today
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your age, our employment law attorneys are prepared to help you hold your negligent employer accountable. We understand that going up against an employer can seem intimidating, but it’s important to remember that you have rights and are entitled to a safe, comfortable work environment.
Pursuing an employment law claim is often complex, especially when it comes to producing the necessary evidence that shows you were wronged. That’s why the sooner you get in touch with DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, the better your chances are of maximizing your recovery. Contact us today for more information.