Age Discrimination

Employment Laws | The Vegas Lawyers

Age Discrimination Lawyer in Las Vegas

What Constitutes Age Discrimination?

Refusing to hire or promote someone based upon their age is considered age discrimination.

Federal law prohibits discrimination against people over the age of 40 in the workplace.  It doesn’t protect employees under that age, though some states have laws protecting people of all ages.  Nevada is not one of those states.  Under Nevada law, age discrimination can only occur if the aggrieved worker is over the age of 40.  Basically, Nevada follows the standards established under federal law.   

What Constitutes Age Discrimination?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) of 1967 is the law that protects people’s rights in the workplace, including protecting them against discriminatory action based upon their age.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), a federal agency, enforces the ADEA.  On the state level, the law is enforced by the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”).   

The law prohibits discrimination based on age when:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promoting
  • Compensating employees (such as lower wages due to age)

It also covers the privileges, terms, and conditions of employment.  In simple terms, this means employers can’t lay off employees due to age, nor can they refuse them training or training opportunities.

According to Nevada law, age discrimination is illegal in the following scenarios as well:

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Job notices
  • Employment advertisements
  • Pre-employment inquiries
  • Employee benefits

Labor organizations are also bound by the ADEA. They are not allowed to:

  • Exclude someone from membership due to their age
  • Limit or segregate their membership based on age
  • Refuse or fail to refer employment opportunities to older members
  • Cause an employer to discriminate against employees or potential employees
  • Fail to participate in or be opposed to unlawful, discriminatory practices
  • Refuse to participate in investigations or litigation

Age-related harassment in the workplace is also unlawful.  Harassment can include derogatory or offensive comments about a person’s age that are so severe or often repeated that the workplace becomes a hostile environment.

Harassers can include:

  • Employers/CEOs
  • Managers
  • Direct supervisors
  • Supervisors from another department
  • A co-worker
  • A customer or client

The Purpose Of ADEA

In the workforce, knowledge of technology and high productivity skills are a must. The environment in many fields is high-paced and thus allows little room for error.

Unfortunately, there is some prejudice in society against people over a certain age that assumes they cannot perform as well as younger generations.  This is of course biased and narrow-minded thinking.   

Employment opportunities should not be based on prejudice, nor should a single person be judged by what may be deemed true/normal for a group of people.  In fact, most people in older generations are mentally sharp, have a good work ethic, and can still learn a new skill set and excel in the workplace. 

Consider some of the 2020 Presidential candidates who were all over the age of 70 – Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  They not only led the pack of candidates running for the highest office, they did so drawing record crowds and leading in the polls.  Thus, making assumptions about people based upon their age is simply dumb and wrong.  Be that as it may, it still happens with too much frequency.      

In passing the ADEA, Congress acknowledged the discrimination that older Americans often face. Older workers are disadvantaged in retaining employment or regaining it after they’ve been displaced.  Congress also acknowledged the common practice by employment entities to place arbitrary age limits on hiring or promoting regardless of a person’s experience or their potential for high-quality job performance.

The goal of the ADEA is not only to reduce age-related discrimination but to also promote the idea of employment based on ability, not age.  Another goal is to help employers and employees create solutions to potential issues that arise due to the impact of a person’s age.

Who Is Liable For Workplace Age Discrimination?

Ultimately, an employer is responsible for discriminatory acts in the workplace, whether the action taken was by them or their subordinates.

Legally, an employer is liable if a manager or supervisor discriminated against someone and:

  • The employer knew about it and failed to take corrective action or
  • The employer should have known about the age discrimination and failed to act

If you believe you’ve been the victim of age discrimination, you need to immediately report the incident to your supervisor, manager, or human resources (“HR”) department.  To file a charge of employment discrimination, you need to file a complaint at work first.  If you don’t make a complaint to HR, your employer can successfully argue that it cannot be held responsible for age discrimination since you did not give the employer an opportunity to correct the problem.   

How Do You Prove Workplace Age Discrimination?

Have you been treated unfairly on the job because of your age?  It’s your legal right to file a claim with the EEOC or NERC.  However, for your case to be accepted, you need to have proof of age discrimination.

You can do this in two ways:

  • Disparate treatment theory: To win this claim, you must demonstrate that age was the legal reason for the discrimination.  Had it not been for your age, the action against you would not have been taken. At the time of the discrimination, you need to be 40 or older, qualified for your position, and have experienced an adverse action (demotion, termination, loss of benefits, replaced by a significantly younger person).
  • Disparate impact theory: Under this claim, proof of intentional discrimination is not required. Instead, you have to demonstrate that workplace practices have disproportionally negative impacts on employees over 40 years of age.

Age Discrimination Cases Are Very Hard To Win

Unfortunately, age discrimination cases are very hard to win, even more so than the average employment case.  Why?  Because in 2009 a bitterly divided United States Supreme Court made it easier for employers to win age-discrimination cases.  That case, Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., established a new rule that employees, in order to succeed on a claim of age discrimination, must show that bias based upon age was the key motivating factor and not just one of several factors for an adverse employment action. 

Thus, in practical terms, this means the employee has to somehow show that age bias was the main motivating factor for a demotion, loss of salary or refusal to hire.  This is much harder to prove than it might seem.  How often does an employer tell an employee he or she is being fired because they’re too old for the job or they’re being given a pay decrease for the same reason?  It rarely happens and most employers are careful to never express such a direct opinion.  Thus, an employee is left having to establish a case based upon circumstantial evidence.        

Have You Been Terminated Due to Age Discrimination?

If you face age-related discrimination or you’ve been terminated because of your age, you deserve justice.  The legal team at The Vegas Lawyers will help you file your claim with the EEOC. They can also help you work through mediation and settlement or fight for you if your case goes to court

While age discrimination cases might be tough cases, The Vegas Lawyers have had much success achieving favorable outcomes for clients dealing with age discrimination.  This is because our team understands the law and knows how to develop facts that can lead to a winning result.   

702-707-7000

Age is just a number and employers need to be reminded that your ability to do your job well is based on your skills and work ethic – not your age. The Vegas Lawyers team will be in your corner, helping you stand up for your equal opportunity employment rights. Call us today at (702) 707-7000 or get in touch here.

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