Discrimination is a pervasive problem in the United States today, affecting millions of employees every year. Both state and federal law protect workers from certain kinds of discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex or national origin. When it comes to age, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employers from discriminating against workers over the age of 40 on the basis of age. Oregon discrimination law expands these protections to employees over 18 years of age.
The law protects workers from adverse decisions employment decisions being made due to their age; these adverse decisions could be regarding issues such as hiring, termination, wages, or promotions. In addition, the act prohibits employers from seeking employees within a certain age range, denying benefits to workers due to age, and prohibiting mandatory retirement, in most circumstances. Age discrimination can be extremely difficult to prove, and the burden of proof is on the employee who is alleging age discrimination. An experienced attorney can assist you determine whether you have a claim, and can further help you hold discriminatory employers liable.
According to recent report published at Forbes.com, the number of age discrimination cases being filed has risen in recent years. The article cites Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statistics that indicate that the number of complaints filed between 1997 and 2007 were between 16,000 and 19,000, but since 2008 that number has increased to between 23,000 and 25,000 per year. While the number of complaints is growing, it seems that is also becoming more difficult to win an age discrimination claim. Courts are now more amenable to the argument that terminating older people may be a function less of discrimination and more one of removing the highest paid employees to cut costs. In addition, a recent Supreme Court ruling has also raised the evidentiary bar for what an employee must show to successfully claim age discrimination.
Age discrimination can occur in a variety of ways, but some of the most common include:
-Being passed up for a promotion to a younger employee
-Not being hired for a position for which you are qualified
-Derogatory comments regarding your performance or appearance due to your age
These are just a few of the ways in which an employee could potentially be discriminated against due to their age. Other forms of age discrimination could be much more subtle and hard to pinpoint, which is why it is extremely important to document as much as possible about any suspect activity. An attorney can help you determine whether you are in fact being discriminated against, and can also help gather evidence that supports your case. If you feel that you have been subject to age or any other kind of discrimination, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.