According to Federal Law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee or potential employee due to their age. If an individual is the best qualified applicant for a job, promotion, project, etc. then that individual deserves the position. Employers may not choose to hire, fire, or promote based on the age of the applicant. This can be a difficult issue to prove, as they will likely claim the individual was simply unqualified for the position.
Although it can be difficult to prove, age discrimination is an increasingly common practice in many businesses. There has been an increasing amount of age discrimination cases brought to light in the last couple years. Being aware of the rights of an employee allows you to best defend yourself in the workplace setting. The following are some common age discrimination examples in Arizona.
Arizona is an at-will state. This means that employers can fire an employee at any time, for any reason. Except, there are federally protected classifications that cannot be used to discriminate against an employee. These protected classifications include:
Your Boss Made Age-Related Remarks About You Before You Were Fired, Such As: You Are “Over-the-Hill,” “Behind the Times,” or “Ancient.”
Employers are legally not allowed to terminate your employment simply because of age. If an employee still has the capability to complete their job requirements, they may not be fired for their age. If your boss or supervisors make comments regarding your age, you should take note and pay attention for any witnesses that can attest to the derogatory comments made toward you regarding your age.
As long as you are still able to complete the tasks required by your job, your age should not be a determining factor in being fired.
You were fired because your boss wanted to keep younger workers who are paid less.
Younger entrants into the workplace cause a peculiar issue for employers and employees. The young employees are cheaper labor due to their inexperience and lack of on-the-job skills.
Employers are drawn to the cheaper labor, but by law they cannot pass up a qualified applicant simply because they are older. If the young employee does not have the skills required for the job or promotion, an employer cannot choose them over a qualified applicant simply due to their age.
Company Layoffs Were Announced and Most of the Laid Off Employees Were Older, While Younger Workers with Less Seniority and Less Experience Were Kept On.
Employers sometimes try to mask age discrimination with a mass firing. They will portray it as cleaning house and moving a new direction, but this can be a cover for wanting to hire young employees for less money, or simply to push out older employees.
Job Posting Included Age Preferences, Limitations, or Specifications.
When you are looking at potential job listings, they will generally have a requirements section that outlines the specific requirements the job is looking for in potential employees for the position. The requirements can include factors such as:
- High School Diploma; Bachelor’s Degree; Master’s Degree
- Number of years of experience in a similar field
- Competency with programs related to the job
The requirements cannot include an age limit, unless it is specific to the job (e.g. individuals need to be 21+ to deliver alcohol). If a job does not have a legal reason for including an age requirement, then it could be a form of age discrimination.
An employer may ask for your age, but not set a max age limit unless the individuals would not be able to complete the duties of the job. If an employer asks for your age on your application, pay attention in the interviews and at the office as to the general age range of the employees.
Boss told a coworker that you sound too old on the phone and then fired you.
With age a voice may change, but that is not a fireable offense if it is strictly because of the results of aging.
An employee that can still complete the requirements of the job but has an “old sounding voice” should not be fired. There is a gray area with this specific type of age discrimination that allows for jobs that may require constant talking on the phone or a certain demeanor on the phone call.
You Were Reprimanded at Your Job for Doing Something that Younger People Get Away With.
Employees should all follow the same rules and have the same consequences. If you notice that you are being singled out for mistakes that younger employees are making as well, this could be a sign that your employer is trying to gather evidence against you to prove their legitimacy in firing you and not be sued for age discrimination.
Your Boss and Coworkers are Making Your Life Difficult by Giving New Projects to Younger employers, Giving You the Hard Cases, or Acting in a Way that is Hostile and Makes You Want to Quit Your Job.
A common tactic that employers use to avoid age discrimination based firing, they will change how they treat the employee in a negative way that encourages the older employee to quit. If an employee quits, then the employer did not have to fire them for an illegal reason. Any tactics used to try and push an employee out should be documented.
Suing for Age Discrimination
According to the Supreme Court and ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act), the individual that makes the discrimination claim must show with a “preponderance of evidence” that age discrimination was the “but-for” cause of the employer’s actions. This burden of proof can be overwhelming and burdensome. An experienced employment law attorney will know exactly what you will need to bring a legitimate case against your previous employer.
It is critical that you document times, dates, quotes, and witnesses to any discriminatory acts against you at your workplace. Having the documented proof and witnesses will help build a strong case against your previous employer and allow you to recoup more damages.
It is not recommended to attempt to represent yourself in an age discrimination case. Having an attorney on your side that understands the ins-and-outs of employment law and can help you navigate the process efficiently is priceless. If you think you were the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, contact an employment law lawyer today to discuss your options.
Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.