Recent surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that more than 20 percent of workers in the United States are 55 years of age or older and a disturbingly high percentage of those employees have experienced age discrimination. In fact, a survey revealed that approximately 64 percent of older workers confirmed that they experienced age discrimination in the workplace. In 2014, approximately 21,396 age discrimination claims were filed with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to AARP.
Due to the prevalence of age discrimination, Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967. Under the ADEA, an employer may not discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on their age when the employee or applicant is 40 years of age or older. This means age cannot be a factor when considering promotions, bonuses, hiring, or termination.
Only specific employers are required to adhere to the regulations set forth under the ADEA. For example, the employer must have at least 20 employees that engage in interstate commerce and who have worked for the company for at least 20 months. Other employers who must comply with the ADEA include federal and state agencies. State laws, however, also apply to employers who employ at least 15 employees.
Keep in mind, employers may discipline or terminate an employee who has performance issues. You cannot excuse your performance due to your age. Nevertheless, the employer may cloak the discrimination on alleged performance issues that are unfounded or which are tolerated when it is a younger employee who has a similar performance issue.
Another example is when a company requires employees to lift heavy materials such as boxes (e.g. Amazon, FedEx, etc.). In this situation, an employer may discriminate against an older job applicant or employee if they are physically incapable of completing the assigned job duties.
Also, if you are under the age of 40, you do not have any protection under the ADEA. This means if an employer does not hire you because “you are too young,” you cannot file a claim under the ADEA, according to NBC Chicago.
If you were terminated from your job and you suspect it was due to your age, it is important to schedule a meeting with an attorney to discuss your legal options. The experienced Chicago age discrimination lawyers with Goldman & Ehrlich are here to help.