Are you immensely qualified, yet unable to obtain a job in your field? If so, you are not alone. Systems Engineer Cheryl Fillekes claims that Google refused to hire her despite her impressive qualifications. Why? Cheryl is 47 years old. She is now part of a class action suit involving close to 300 people claiming discrimination on the basis of age. Google denies the claim, but the court saw fit to proceed with the case earlier this summer.
In a similar 2014 case, the California Supreme Court awarded Bob Nickel $16.3 million in an age discrimination and wrongful termination suit. In this situation Nickel was already employed by Staples, and was forced out in order to “get rid of the old goat.”
What is Age Discrimination?
When employment decisions are made that harm workers aged 40 or older, there is a possibility that age discrimination is in play. This type of discrimination is sometimes difficult to prove, but manifests itself in a number of ways:
- A younger looking person gets hired even though not as qualified;
- Negative job evaluations suddenly appear after years of exemplary ones;
- Older workers lose their position and younger, cheaper employees replace them;
- The boss claims the need for “new blood” and passes older, more experienced workers by for promotions;
- Snide remarks or “jokes” related to age make older workers uncomfortable.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The ADEA shields older workers who are discriminated against. This federal law protects workers involved with companies who employ at least 20 employees. According to the law, age may not be a determining factor in any employment decisions, from hiring to promotions, benefit determinations, layoffs, and firings. Specifically, the law states:
- Age preferences and/or specifications cannot be included in job postings, except in cases where age is a bona fide occupational qualification, such as in the case of specific actors needed for commercials and so forth;
- Apprenticeship programs may not discriminate on the basis of age, except in very limited circumstances;
- Companies may not force individuals into retirement;
- Employers may not retaliate against individuals who point out and fight against such discriminatory practices.
Remedies for Age Discrimination
The law provides for a number of possible remedies in the event that age discrimination can be proven in court:
- Pay for lost wages;
- Liquidated damages (when the violation was willful back wages may be doubled);
- Court costs and attorney’s fees;
- Fees related to expert witnesses.
Additionally, employers may be mandated to post notices related to age discrimination violations, and to take corrective actions in order to prevent further discrimination.
When it Happens to You
If you have faced age discrimination, you are not alone. The experienced team at HKM Employment Law knows the law and will pursue justice aggressively on your behalf. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.