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Age Discrimination in New York & New Jersey Q&A

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgQ: I am a 55 year old female who has been a long term employee with an excellent record. Recently, I was laid off and replaced by a young, less inexperienced female. I believe my company fired me because of my age because they have recently replaced several older workers with young people. What can I do?

Our Age Discrimination Employment Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala have been closely monitoring age discrimination lawsuits which have been rapidly rising over the past decade. Many employers are under the misguided notion that they can decrease their costs by replacing their older, experienced work force with young, cheap labor. Employers think that health care and ERISA related pension costs are higher for an older work force which is not always true.

The EEOC recently brought a lawsuit concerning age and sex discrimination against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“Port Authority”). The EEOC has alleged that the Port Authority fired 2 underpaid female attorneys, 55 and 57 years old, because of their age and replaced them with younger, less experienced attorneys. The complaint also alleges that the Port Authority does not pay its female attorneys in non-supervisory jobs the same as it pays its males having similar experience. The EEOC seeks to stop the Port Authority from discriminating based on age and pay, seeks back wages, and reinstatement of jobs.

The Port Authority is a bi-state agency which runs several of the largest transportation hubs in the Northeast area. A Port Authority representative has said “We’re bringing in younger attorneys” and “We’re going to remake this agency with young, fresh faces.”

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) prohibits age discrimination in employment. The EEOC has stated that the “ADEA prohibits the misguided notion that an employer can invigorate its work force by firing older workers and replacing them with younger workers.” If your employer is covered under the ADEA, he or she cannot discriminate against you with respect to any condition or privilege of employment, including but not limited to hiring, promoting, firing, layoff, compensation, benefits, training, or job assignment. The ADEA also makes it illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if file an age discrimination claim or participate in a claim.

According to the EEOC, age discrimination claims have increased 61% over the past decade and are further expected to rise. The AARP, a strong opponent of age discrimination, reports that the percentage of people 65 and over who continue to work grew from 10.8% in 1985 to 16% in 2007. More and more people are finding it difficult to retire after having taken huge hits on their pensions and rising health care costs. It is also more difficult to find a similar paying job after losing one at an older age.

Unfortunately, age discrimination is a universal type of discrimination that can eventually affect everyone. If you suspect your employer is discriminating against you because of your age, gather and document any evidence you have, including the names of people or witnesses involved, dates, times, any discriminatory comments and remarks, and performance reviews. For example, make note of any harassment or discriminatory jokes or comments such as: “did you get a senior citizen’s discount”; “Centrum Silver crowd”; “Grandpa, is it AARP time yet?“. Even if you are 58 years old and your employer replaces you with a less experienced 41 year old, this may still be age discimination. Our experienced Age Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva and Sanchala can help you determine the strength of your age discrimination case and help you protect your workplace rights.

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