While all forms of discrimination are demeaning and cruel, age discrimination can be one of the cruelest forms of all. This is especially if you have worked for a company for years as a loyal and conscientious employee, only to be mistreated later on. While some people are subjected to overt forms of age discrimination, like being fired or having an employer refuse to hire them, others are subjected to harassment. One type of that harassment that can make a work situation unbearable is hostile work environment discrimination?
What Laws Protect Workers from Age Discrimination?
Workers and job applicants who are 40 or older are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Act includes a prohibition against harassment. Simple teasing is not illegal, nor are minor offhand comments or isolated incidents. But harassment that results in a hostile work environment is specifically prohibited.
One thing worth noting is that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect youthful workers. In other words, if you are harassed for being much younger than your co-workers, even if you are over 40, you are not protected by this federal law.
Some industries and employers have mandatory retirement ages, and you may be wondering if your mandatory retirement age is lawful. Ultimately, it depends. If you are a government employee, your mandatory retirement age is more likely to be lawful. For example, many jurisdictions have mandatory retirement ages for judges, and these have been held to be legal. However, as a general rule, private employers are not allowed to have mandatory retirement ages. But there are some narrow exceptions to that rule for individuals in certain executive or policy-making positions who have certain types of benefits packages. An additional wrinkle comes into play when retirement is considered in light of harassment law. Persistent harassment about an employer or coworker’s opinion that you should retire at a certain age may amount to a hostile work environment.
Time Limitations on Making a Complaint
One of the most frustrating parts of all discrimination law is that discrimination protections come with very short time restrictions. You may have as little as 180 days to file a complaint about age discrimination, and if you are a federal employee, you may have even less time than that. This means that it is very important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you may have been a victim of this type of discrimination, so that you do not inadvertently give up any of your rights.
Contact an Employment Lawyer
Being a victim of age discrimination can be both confusing and extremely stressful. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we deal with age discrimination cases on a regular basis, so we understand what you are going through, and would like to be of help. Please call us at (503) 398-1130 so we can discuss your cases as soon as possible and see if there is anything we can do for you.