Age Discrimination

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Growing up, we were always told to “respect our elders.”  Experience mattered.  Seniority was an accomplishment.  It meant that you had persevered and were accomplished in your career.  Today, however, employers are replacing their older workers with much younger applicants.  And many older workers are faced with challenging economic times.

In 1967, Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The Act was designed to protect workers over the age of 40 from employment discrimination based on age.  The ADEA protects both employees and those seeking employment.  Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person because of his or her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments or training.  In fact, the ADEA favors older workers over younger ones.

An age discrimination case can be established under Michigan law by either direct evidence of discrimination (e.g., hiring a younger employee to replace an older one), or, in cases where there is no direct evidence of impermissible age discrimination, a jury can infer discrimination from the following:

  • The employee (or applicant) was within the age protected class;
  • He/she suffered an adverse employment action (i.e., firing, failure to promote, demotion);
  • He/she was qualified for the position; and
  • No other person outside the age protected class was affected by the employer’s adverse actions.

If these factors are proven, then the “burden of proof” shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its employment decision.  However, you do not have to prove that age was “the only” factor in the adverse employment decision, but rather, that it was merely “a” factor in the decision.

If you have been the victim of “ageism” and have suffered the indecency of discrimination in your place of business, you are entitled to “damages” under Michigan law, including:

  • Reinstatement of employment;
  • Payment of back wages;
  • Full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights;
  • Actual damages; and
  • Attorney fees.

If you feel that you have been passed over, provided unequal pay, terminated or simply did not get a job because of your age, then call Vince Colella, an aggressive, skilled, knowledgeable trial lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping Michigan’s workers, toll free at 1.800.MUSTWIN or 248.945.0100.

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