We Handle Age Discrimination Claims Throughout New Jersey
Many things change with age. Respect in the workplace should not be among them. You should always be judged on your individual qualifications—not on stereotypes about your age. Discrimination on the basis of age is illegal and yet people over age 40 face discrimination in hiring decisions, in promotional opportunities, and in training opportunities. Despite their ability and experience, employees and managers over 40 are often the first to be affected by staff reductions and layoffs.
At Zatuchni & Associates, our top-rated New Jersey age discrimination attorney is an experienced, results-driven advocate for clients. We represent employees who have suffered economic losses or a promotional “glass ceiling” due to age discrimination. If you or your loved one was discriminated against or harassed based on your age, we are here to help. Contact the New Jersey office of our employment law firm to speak to an age discrimination attorney with experience.
What is Age Discrimination in the Workplace?
As described by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), age discrimination occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or an employee less favorably because of their age. State and federal age discrimination regulations protect workers who are 40 years of age and older. To bring a successful age discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey, you must first establish that you were subject to an adverse employment action. Some notable examples of adverse employment action include:
- Refusal to hire an applicant;
- Failure to offer a promotion;
- Assignment of undesirable assignments;
- Denial of fair pay or benefits;
- Unfair termination (firing or layoff); and
- Harassment or abuse in the workplace.
To constitute age discrimination, there must be a causal connection between the adverse employment action and your age. An employee must prove that the supervisor/employee had discriminatory animus. Our top-rated New Jersey employment lawyer has the skills and knowledge to help clients prove age discrimination in the workplace. We will comprehensively, diligently investigate your case.
An Overview of Federal and State Age Discrimination Laws
In New Jersey, employees may be protected against age discrimination under both federal and state age discrimination laws. The primary federal law barring age discrimination is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The ADEA applies to private employers with 20 or more total employees. Additionally, it applies to federal and state government agencies. The ADEA strictly prohibits adverse employment actions based on age. If you have any questions about filing a claim before the EEOC, our age discrimination lawyer can help.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) also provides key legal protections against workplace age discrimination. In many ways, New Jersey’s state-level age discrimination law is similar to the federal statute. However, the New Jersey LAD applies to some smaller employers that are not subject to federal age discrimination law. If you have any specific questions about your rights under state or federal law, our New Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer is here to help.
Clearing the Decks Through Layoffs
A short-term financial setback is often the reason a company uses to lay off a percentage of its workforce. When that layoff accomplishes the goal of relieving the company of an unusually high percentage of higher-paid, more experienced older workers and managers, age discrimination may be part of the decision making equation. This is illegal under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).
In addition, a federal law called the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) offers important legal protections to employees who are over the age of 40 when certain companies engage in staff reductions. If you have been laid off and you believe your company unfairly discriminated against you because of your age in its layoff decision, contact our office about filing a lawsuit or an EEOC complaint. Our lawyers handle individual and class action age discrimination lawsuits and unfair terminations lawsuits.
Demotion or Job Shifting: Do Not Assume You are Without Options
When older workers in factories, on assembly lines, or in sales departments find themselves shifted to less lucrative positions because their boss decided they couldn’t handle the demands of their job anymore, age discrimination may be a factor. If this happened to you, please know that you have legal options available.
A demotion is a textbook example of an adverse employment action. You can bring an age discrimination claim if you were demoted, reassigned, or otherwise unfavorably treated simply because of stereotypes about your age. You do not have to be terminated from your position in order to have legal rights.
What is age bias?
First, although state and federal law prohibits discrimination against workers ages 40 and older, most of my cases involve employees approaching retirement age, ages 55 and up. Exceptions can occur by industry. For example, sales and IT are notoriously biased toward younger (and in sales, preferably unmarried and childless) workers.
Age bias routinely occurs after a change in management. Often a company is acquired, resulting in a new management team eager to curry favor with higher-ups and shareholders by cutting costs. The easiest way to do so is through the low-hanging fruit of firing workers 55 and older, regardless of the experience and judgment they bring to the table.
Examples of Age Discrimination
Because they are well-versed in the anti-discrimination laws, employers know that the only way to terminate a worker because of her age is to invent a reason — and so they do. The new manager in his 30s starts subjecting his 58-year-old subordinate to written reprimands for negligible paperwork errors or small details that were never an issue with the prior manager. The 60-year-old nurse gets put on a Performance Improvement Plan for practices that, for years, were commonplace and accepted on her hospital floor. Mountains are made of molehills.
While most employers craft bogus warnings or PIPS to lay the groundwork for termination, I have seen older workers get fired for just a single minor infraction.
Protecting Yourself from Age Discrimination
Given that age discrimination is widespread and pernicious, what can you do, as an older worker, to protect yourself? There are no easy answers and no foolproof “silver bullets.” However, I advise you to:
Keep performing to the very best of your ability. Do your utmost not to give your boss a reason to let you go. This might entail taking classes or undergoing training on new systems. Remain receptive to learning and to adopting the practices of your management team, even if these are different from the “old way” of doing things.
Make sure your achievements are documented and, to the extent possible, known to management. Did your bank client send you a glowing email regarding your efficiency and accuracy in preparing tax returns? Then forward a copy of the email to your manager. Did the parents of one of your students send you a heartfelt letter of thanks for assisting the student at lunchtime/after school? Did the spouse of your patient give you a card thanking you for your outstanding level of care? Then be sure to keep these documents and ask management to allow you to submit them to your personnel file.
When other older workers are terminated and/or begin to leave, communicate, and make the effort to stay in touch. To look less suspicious, new management often targets older workers one at a time, either firing them outright or pressuring them to get out. If you know any such older workers, keep your lines of communication open with them by exchanging emails or phone numbers. In my practice, I have found that other terminated workers are often amenable to giving sworn statements in support of my clients’ age discrimination claims. Furthermore, evidence that you are one of a group of older workers subjected to age bias undeniably bolsters your claim. There is strength in numbers.
Keep track of the age of replacements. In the same vein, when other older workers are terminated and/or begin to leave, notice whether they are replaced with workers in their 20s or 30s.
If you believe you are being targeted, call an attorney. Once management begins subjecting you to undue scrutiny, or puts you on what you believe to be an unwarranted PIP, it’s prudent to call an attorney to discuss your situation and explore your alternatives going forward.
You Can Rely on New Jersey Age Discrimination Attorney David Zatuchni
Age discrimination claims are notoriously complex. Employees need a reliable legal representative in their corner. Our founding attorney David Zatuchni is a skilled employment law advocate who has extensive experience bringing age discrimination claims. Before launching his own law firm, he defended large employers. He knows all of the tactics and strategies that companies and their attorneys use when defending discrimination claims. When you get in touch with our law firm, you will have an opportunity to speak directly to a New Jersey age discrimination attorney who will:
- Conduct a free, confidential review of your employment law claim;
- Answer your questions and explain the legal process;
- Investigate the case—securing all evidence of age discrimination; and
- Take action to protect your workplace rights and get justice.
Every age discrimination case is different. We will handle your case with the personal attention that it deserves. Is there proof that you can’t do your job your age? Or did your employer simply decide this was the case? If your financial security has been jeopardized unfairly, you need to take action to protect your rights. Contact a New Jersey age discrimination attorney for guidance and support.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a New Jersey Age Discrimination Attorney
At Zatuchni & Associates, our New Jersey age discrimination attorney is standing by, ready to fight for your rights. We have one goal in mind when representing clients: protect their rights and help them get the best possible outcome. To set up a free review of your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today. From our legal offices in Morristown and Lambertville, we handle age discrimination claims throughout the entire State of New Jersey.