Last year’s downturn in the economy led to hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their jobs. While the economy has made a solid recovery since then, you still may face an unexpected job loss sometime this year. If that happens, you may wonder why you were let go. Was it because of your age? Yet if it was, how can you prove that?
Age discrimination in the workplace
First, you need to understand how the federal government defines age discrimination. Only employees 40 and older are covered by the Age Discrimination Employment Act. Second, you should realize that employers most likely won’t admit they fired an employee for discriminatory reason. To prove that your employer illegally fired you due to age discrimination, you will need to collect and preserve evidence of your employer’s words or action that show age discrimination.
Here are some examples of evidence of possible age discrimination:
- Your employer has asked you, “Isn’t it time you retired?”
- You hear your employer say they need “fresh blood” in the company.
- You are part of a mass layoff that disproportionately affected older workers.
- You have a poor performance review for no apparent reason. In the past, your performance reviews have shown you are meeting or exceeding your employer’s expectations.
- You are assigned to unpleasant duties to try to get you to quit.
- You haven’t received a raise in a while, even though you have meet your yearly goals and aren’t at the top of the pay scale.
- You don’t receive the opportunity to train on new technology, even though younger workers are.
Documenting discrimination issues
If notice any of the above possible discriminatory practices, you need to document these. You should keep a notebook and record the date if your boss pesters you about retiring or you hear someone in management saying the company needs younger workers. You should email your boss if you realize that younger workers are receiving technology training that you aren’t. Keep the responses to those emails or emails about why you had a poor performance review or didn’t get a raise.
In the end, you may want to consult an experienced employment law attorney if you feel you were the victim of age discrimination when you were fired. An attorney can give you advice how to best proceed and build a strong case that your employer violated federal law by terminating you.