All employees deserve to be treated fairly. However, the reality is that just doesn’t happen. If you’ve been discriminated against and believe your age played a role in how you were treated, you may be able to file a claim with the help of a Charleston age discrimination lawyer.
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we believe employees who have been discriminated against deserve the opportunity to stand up for themselves and hold their negligent employer accountable for whatever discriminatory actions took place.
If you believe you have a valid complaint, our attorneys can evaluate your situation and help you decide how best to proceed. In order to get an idea of whether or not you have a claim to move forward with, let’s start by taking a look at what age discrimination looks like in the workplace.
Age Discrimination in the Workplace
The labor force is people ages 16 and older who are either actively looking for work or working. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of older employees is rising and will continue to do so. By 2024, 41 million of the 164 million people in the labor force will be ages 55 and older. Approximately 13 million are expected to be ages 65 and older.
The increase in older workers is being fueled by the aging baby-boom generation—the individuals born between 1946 and 1964. By 2024, baby boomers will have reached ages 60 to 78. It’s expected that many will continue working even after they qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. This is because of the longer life expectancies, better education, and retirement plans.
Unfortunately, older employees are discriminated against every day at work. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), age discrimination happens when an applicant or employee is treated less favorably because of their age. The laws that forbid discrimination applies to those who are over the age of 40.
Examples of Age Discrimination at Work
Age discrimination can happen in a number of ways at work. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, you may have experienced one or more of the following situations:
- Denial of employment for being “too old”
- Older employees being denied training, education, and other benefits
- Reductions or layoffs that disproportionately affect older people
- Unwanted jokes or comments on the basis of age
- Lower pay for the same work
- Assigning demeaning tasks to older employees only
- Making a job difficult to encourage someone to quit
Those are just a few examples of age discrimination in the workplace. If you think you’ve been mistreated because of your age, whether it be at your workplace or while you were applying for a position, it’s important to understand the employment laws that could apply to your discrimination claim.
Laws Against Age Discrimination
In order to protect workers over the age of forty in West Virginia and across the rest of the country, there are laws at the state and federal level. When you file a complaint, you’ll use the evidence you collect in conjunction with the existing laws to prove you were treated unfairly.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was formulated to apply in local and state government agencies, the federal government, employment agencies, businesses that employ over 20 people, and labor organizations that employ over 25 individuals. The ADEA, however, does not cover members of the military, independent contractors, or those who have been elected to a public office.
The ADEA does not protect workers under the age of 40. This means that on a federal level, it’s not illegal for an employer to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older. Discrimination can also occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the mistreatment are both over the age of 40.
West Virginia’s “Substantially Younger” Rule
As mentioned, the federal age discrimination laws only apply to applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older. In West Virginia, however, there is a rule that protects another group. As of 2016, age discrimination plaintiffs in the state may be able to establish a case even if they were replaced with someone who is 40 years old or older.
The West Virginia Supreme Court followed Justice Scalia’s lead to adopt the “substantially younger” requirement after a plaintiff, a 65-year old housekeeper, was fired from her job and replaced with housekeepers who were 41 and 53.
While there is not an official rule stating what “substantially younger” means, an age gap of ten or more years is typically considered sufficient.
Fight for Your Rights With DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your age, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options and what you can do to hold your negligent employer accountable for your suffering. That’s why you need a Charleston age discrimination lawyer.
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we believe in fighting for our clients and ensuring justice is served on their behalf. We recognize the hesitation that can come with filing a claim against an employer, but we’ll be by your side, guiding you through every step of the process.
Your situation and the events that led up to your wanting to pursue a claim will have an impact on how complex your case is and what evidence is needed to prove you were wronged. To learn more about the process and best chances to succeed with an age discrimination claim, contact us today.