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Older workers can have certain advantages over younger workers, especially when it comes to experience, well-developed networks, and long-term client relationships. Unfortunately, some employers may perceive certain economic disadvantages when it comes to older workers, including salary history and requirements, having dependents who must also be covered under the employer’s group insurance policies, and heavier investment in pension plans.

Older workers also face negative stereotypes in the workplace, including the perception that they are less motivated and more content to be settled in their position, or that they have difficulties learning and adapting to new technologies and processes.

As a result, these workers face discrimination in the form of being passed over for younger workers for new job opportunities, being given fewer duties commensurate to their skills, or being among the first employees to be laid off if an employer must cut costs. However, subjecting older workers to adverse employment decisions as a result of their age may constitute illegal age discrimination.

At the federal level alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the fiscal year 2018 received nearly 17,000 charges of violation of federal anti-age discrimination laws; there were likely tens of thousands more complaints to state and local anti-discrimination agencies for violation of state and local laws.

If you believe that you have been the victim of age discrimination, you should speak with an experienced age discrimination attorney who can review the facts of your case to determine whether you may have a potential legal claim for age discrimination and help you to pursue the relief or compensation you deserve. Contact Stuart Higgins of Higgins Law Firm, PLLC today at (515) 619-9148 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation.

What Are the Laws Regarding Age Discrimination?

At the federal level, age discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA prohibits discrimination in the employment context against persons who are age 40 and older. While the ADEA precludes an employer from favoring a younger worker over an older worker, the law does not prohibit the converse even if both individuals are 40 or older. However, the ADEA does apply even if the individual making the adverse employment decision is also 40 or older.

The ADEA makes it unlawful to:

  • Discriminate based on age in any aspect of employment, including (but not limited to) hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, and benefits
  • Harass any individual on the basis of age. Harassment can include offensive or derogatory remarks about an individual’s age, which become so severe or pervasive that enduring them becomes a condition of the individual’s employment or results in an adverse employment action
  • Adopt any employment practice or policy that negatively impacts applicants or employees age 40 and older, that is not based on any reasonable factor other than age

In Iowa, the Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from engaging in age discrimination. The act makes it unlawful for an employer to:

  • Refuse to hire, discharge, or discriminate in employment against any applicant or employee because of age, unless it is based on the nature of the position
  • Make pre-employment inquiries regarding an applicant’s age or express any limitation, specification, or discrimination on age, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification
  • Intentionally aid, abet, compel, or coerce another to engage in discriminatory acts or discriminate or retaliate against any person who lawfully opposes discrimination or has assisted in a proceeding under state law
  • Advertise, publicize, or indicate that persons of any particular age are unacceptable for employment unless the nature of the position requires it
  • Coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person who exercises rights under state law or helps another person to exercise such rights

If you have questions about your rights under federal or state law, an attorney can help you understand the federal, state, and local laws applicable to age discrimination.

How Can an Attorney Help Me with My Age Discrimination Claim?

If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your age, an attorney can help you by reviewing the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you have a viable age discrimination claim, or whether any adverse employment action you’ve suffered was the result of a legitimate, objective, non-discriminatory decision by your employer.

If you have a viable claim, an attorney can help by reaching out to your employer to try to negotiate a resolution of your claim, providing you with compensation for your monetary losses and/or placing you in the employment position you should have been in but for the discrimination you experienced.

An attorney can also help you file an age discrimination charge with the EEOC or state or local agency. If necessary, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and help you navigate the justice system to pursue relief and compensation.

What Are the Possible Remedies or Compensation for an Age Discrimination Claim?

If you can successfully assert an age discrimination claim, you may be entitled to certain types of remedies and/or compensation. For example, if you are terminated or denied a raise based on age, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost pay. You may also be entitled to compensation for damages that you may suffer due to emotional distress caused by age discrimination or harassment that you experience.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be entitled to certain equitable remedies. If you are terminated or denied a promotion, you may be reinstated to your original position or granted the promotion you were denied because of your age.

Frequently Asked Questions About Age Discrimination

Can an employer impose age limits on an available position?

Generally speaking, an employer cannot exclude workers from a position because of their age, unless the employer can prove that age is a bona fide occupational qualification. For example, an employer can exclude minors from certain jobs due to legal restrictions or child labor laws.

For older workers, the employer must prove that an age limit serves a legitimate goal, no alternative would equally or better advance it with a less discriminatory impact. For example, airlines may impose maximum age limits to ensure that all pilots have the mental and physical acuity necessary to safely operate an airliner with consistency.

Can an interviewer ask me my age?

Employers should generally refrain from explicitly asking an applicant’s age. If the position has an age limit as a bona fide occupational qualification, an employer should be asking simply if an applicant is within the required age limits.

Can my employer ask me to sign a severance agreement if I am being laid off?

As part of layoffs, an employer may ask terminated employees to sign a severance agreement, under which the employee agrees to waive their right to bring an age discrimination action or other legal claim arising out of the layoff.

Under federal law, such a waiver must meet specific requirements, including providing full opportunity for the employee to make an informed choice as to whether to sign the severance agreement, opportunity to revoke acceptance of the agreement within a specified period, and not including a waiver of claims that arise after the effective date of the severance agreement.

An employer must also provide sufficient information about the factors used to determine employees selected for the lay-off to allow those employees to ascertain whether age was a factor in the determination.

Contact an Iowa Age Discrimination Attorney

If you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment in the workplace due to your age, don’t wait another day to begin the process of pursuing a legal claim. Contact Higgins Law Firm, PLLC today at (515) 619-9148 to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable age discrimination attorneys to discuss your legal rights and options and to learn more about how our firm can help you obtain the relief and compensation you are entitled to under the law.