A state court in California recently sided with a firefighter in his age discrimination lawsuit. The jury awarded the man $700,000 after finding that his employer had intentionally transferred him to a faraway work location in an effort to get him to retire. Though age discrimination like this goes on all the time, most age discrimination victims have difficulty proving that they were discriminated against.
Under the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers are not allowed to discriminate against workers who are at or over the age of 40. However, several Supreme Court rulings that came after the law was enacted have made it easier for employers to hide age discrimination. For example, a 2009 decision found that employers are only guilty of age discrimination if age is the primary reason for an adverse employment decision, not just a factor in the decision.
There are economic and demographic reasons why age discrimination could become a bigger problem as time goes on. According to AARP, people over the age of 50 will make up around 35 percent of the U.S. work force by 2022. If there is another recession, older workers could be the targeted for layoffs because they generally demand higher salaries than younger workers.
Most employers who are accused of age discrimination will claim that their decisions were motivated by other factors besides age. An employer might claim that a worker failed to meet expectations or came in late too many times. Those who believe that that they were discriminated against because of their age may want to meet with an employment discrimination attorney in order to learn what remedies may be available.