how to prove age based discrimination

5 Ways to Prove Age-Based Discrimination in the Workplace

Age-based discrimination in the workplace is not uncommon and can occur in many different ways. Often, employees are passed up for promotions, suffer unwarranted comments and harassment, or are denied employment due to their age – but it does not stop there. Regardless of the tactics used to discriminate, there are laws protecting employees from such actions.

In fact, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 protects employees and applicants who are age 40 or older from age-based discrimination in;

  • Hiring
  • Compensation
  • Promotion
  • Discharge
  • Terms
  • Conditions or privileges of employment

However, proving a discrimination case based on age is not always straightforward. If you believe you have been the victim of age-based discrimination, here is what you need to know to help prove your case.

guide to employment discrimination in the workplace

5 Ways to Prove Age Discrimination

    1. Harassment

Derogatory and/or offensive remarks about an individual’s age becomes illegal when it is so intense or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or facilitates an adverse employment decision such as being demoted or fired. Harassment can come from a supervisor, co-worker, or even a client or customer.

If you’re experiencing harassment, be sure to document your experiences, including date, time, type of harassment and who was the perpetrator. Also, file a report with your human resources department and keep any documentation provided during the process. If the harassment is not resolved or you lose your job, be sure to contact an experienced employee rights attorney to review your case. Often, consultations are confidential and free.

    1. Discipline

If you have been experiencing unexplained disciplinary measures at work, this may be an indication of age discrimination. For example, if a young co-worker performs similar actions without getting written up, your employer could be targeting you because of your age.

It is important to keep and secure all documentation regarding any disciplinary actions should you choose to pursue a case against your employer. If you are not provided documentation, request it from your supervisor and/or Human Resources Department for your records.

    1. Direct Evidence

Occasionally, blatant cases of age discrimination will occur. If your boss tells you directly that you are being fired because you are too old, that is against the law. If you receive emails or letters that directly reference your age, make sure to keep them and any other evidence you may have when you consult an employment law attorney. This type of direct evidence holds a lot of weight when it comes to private negotiation, mediation, and trials.

    1. Hiring & Promotions

Age discrimination is forbidden by the ADEA throughout the hiring process. From the interview to the selection process, age should not be an issue in being hired. This is also true in regards to promotions as well. Were you better qualified for a promotion and a younger person was selected for the position? This could be another way to prove age discrimination.

Being passed up for a job based on your age is harder to prove, but it can be done. There are 3 ways to prove you were denied employment because of your age:

      1. Direct evidence – The person conducting the interview makes age-related comments that are biased, such as “How long do you plan on working?” or “How old are you?”. In some cases, they may state you are “too experienced” and are looking for younger applicants.
      2. Disparate treatment – The employer hired another employee despite the fact you were the most qualified for the position. Should this occur, the employer would be responsible for proving they did not deny you employment based on your age, but for another legitimate reason.
      3. Disparate impact – Some employers will unintentionally list hiring requirements that would disproportionately impact older employees.


    1. Exclusion

Exclusion can be a more subtle approach to age discrimination, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong. Have you noticed a pattern of not being included in training programs or conferences, weekly lunches, or company events? Your employer may be trying to push you out of your position due to your age. Keeping records of these types of exclusions is central to proving a case.

Comprehensive areas that the ADEA provides protection for include:

    • Advertisements and Job Notices
    • Apprenticeship Programs
    • Pre-Employment Inquiries
    • Benefits

If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your age, then speak with an attorney to assert your rights and get your career back on track. Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. office offers a free, confidential consultation at offices in Tampa and throughout Florida.

Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.



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