According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there has been a 17% increase in age discrimination complaints filed since the beginning of the recession in 2007, as reported in an April 17, 2010, Newsweek article. While there are laws on both the federal and state levels protecting employees from age discrimination, these cases are very difficult to prove.
On the federal level, workers are protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. The ADEA protects workers in both the public and private sectors, and applies to people over 40. (The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 is a federal law that protects against age discrimination in activities or programs that receive financial assistance from the federal government, but does not apply to employment issues.)
New Jersey law differs from the federal law on several levels. For one thing, New Jersey law applies to workers under 40 years of age as well. Also in New Jersey, workers who win an age discrimination case may recover punitive and compensatory damages not allowed under federal law with New Jersey age discrimination cases handled through the NJ Division on Civil Rights (DCR).
Most age discrimination complaints filed involve termination or firing cases. However, discrimination in hiring may be as common but more difficult to prove because so many factors are involved in the hiring process.
Employees who believe they have been discriminated against because of age have several avenues to pursue. In New Jersey, claims may be filed with the DCR or the EEOC, or a court suit may be filed as long as the DCR did not issue a “no cause” finding.
A 2009 Supreme Court case has made it even more difficult to prove age discrimination. Prior to that case, complainants had to show that age was one of the factors behind the lawsuit. Now, however, age has to be the only cause.
Because age discrimination cases are so difficult to prove and because there are several avenues for complainants to pursue, it is necessary to seek the services of an experienced attorney. If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination, contact the attorneys at Kearns Rotolo Law for advice. Protect your rights. Call Kearns Rotolo Law today.