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Employment Discrimination: Age Discrimination in the Workplace

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), under 29 U.S.C. § 621, makes it unlawful for an employer to fail to hire any individual, to discharge any individual or discriminate against any individual based on that individual’s age.

In order for an injured party to recover under the ADEA, the injured party must show: (1) he or she is a member of a protected class; (2) his or her employer took an adverse employment action against him or her; (3) he or she is qualified for the position; and (4) evidence showing that employer intended to discriminate in reaching the decision at issue.

Who Is Within The Protected Class?

Under the ADEA, the injured party must be at least 40 years of age to be considered within the protected class. Individuals under 40 years of age are not covered by the ADEA. The injured party must also show that his former employer had 20 or more employees in order to be covered by the ADEA.

What Is An Adverse Employment Action?

Generally, courts require that the employment decision be objectively harmful to the employee in order to be considered an adverse employment action. Courts have held that a variety of adverse employment actions may give rise to discrimination claims, including:

  • Termination from employment

  • Demotion

  • Reassignment to a less desirable position or duties

  • Reduction of work hours

  • Relocation to a less desirable workplace

  • Failure to promote

The following are generally not considered adverse employment actions:

  • Getting the “cold shoulder” or being left out by co-workers.

  • Poor performance reviews that have no effect on the employee’s pay or opportunities for advancement.

  • Disciplinary actions that have no effect on the employee’s pay or opportunities for advancement, such as:

  • Counseling or coaching

  • Verbal or written warnings, or

  • Notes in an employee’s file.

It is important to immediately contact an experienced attorney after experiencing discrimination at work, as important deadlines must be met in order to preserve a discrimination claim. At Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey, LLP, we have been assisting individuals with legal issues for over 35 years. If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, please contact us at 205-349-2009 for a free initial consultation.

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