INTRO- Federal law has protected workers from age discrimination since the Age Discrimination in Employment Act passed in 1967. However age discrimination complaints have increased over 30% since 1997. What do you do if you feel you have been discriminated by your employer because of you age?
Q- What are the basics of the age discrimination law?
A-If you are 40 or older, under Federal Law; businesses with 20 or more employees cannot discriminate based upon age in decisions regarding hiring, firing, pay, benefits and promotions. Ohio also has a similar law that covers employers with as few as four employees.
Q- I am assuming the employers just don't go up to an employee and say you're too old, you're fired? So what are some signs of age discrimination?
A- The issue pops up many times when employers begin to cut back on their work force. They may try to cut older workers who have higher salaries and greater health care costs and keep the younger lower paid employees. This is what the EEOC alleged when it sued DSW, the shoe retailer for letting go of older workers. DSW agreed to pay $900,000 to settle the age discrimination laws suit. DSW did not concede guilt.
Q- What about when you interview for a job, how can you tell if there is age discrimination?
A- It is almost impossible. Although the employee cannot ask your age, obviously once they interview you they can tell if you are older. It is pretty hard to determine if you were not hired because of your age. As a practical matter you will never know the age of the employee who was hired rather than you and it will be difficult to gather facts. When you are already employed it may be easier. If the employer is laying off a number of people and providing severance agreements, they have to give you information on the age of the individuals being cut and retained so it may be easier to determine if there is age discrimination.
Q - What do you do if you feel that you were discriminated in a job situation because of your age?
A. You have a couple of choices. You could file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Ohio civil rights commission. You can contact the Ohio Civil rights commission at 216-787-3150 or visit the website at www.crc.ohio.gov or the EEOC at 216-522-2001 or its web site of www.eeoc/gov. Or contact an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. It does get complicated because if you go to the Ohio civil Rights Commission you may give up your rights to sue in court. Also the time frame for going to the Ohio Civil Rights commission is only six months.
CLOSE- if you think you have been fired or not hired because of your age don't give up and don't delay. See if the law protects you.