Are you being discriminated against at work because of your age? State and federal laws prohibit employers from unfairly treating or harassing workers due to their age, particularly those aged 40 and older. You may be entitled to pursue a legal claim against your employer to obtain relief from the adverse consequences of this age discrimination, including lost income, the loss of your job, and emotional distress. The trusted legal team at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., will advocate for your rights and help you seek accountability from your employer for its discriminatory practices.
Proving that an employer has discriminated against you due to your age can be challenging — but you don’t have to take on that challenge alone. With nearly two decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys know how to advocate effectively for hardworking people in Tallahassee, FL. We are deeply familiar with both the state and federal courts and have successfully handled many cases involving age discrimination and other employment law issues. Because we are seasoned trial attorneys, you can rest assured that we are prepared to take your case to court if that’s the best path to justice and accountability.
If you’re looking for the right Tallahassee age discrimination law firm, you’ve found it. Contact Cruz Law today to learn more about your options.
What Is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination occurs when a current or prospective employee is treated unfavorably due to their age. Adverse treatment may affect decisions related to hiring practices, salaries, job assignments, promotions, training, benefits, layoffs, or termination.
Age discrimination can also take the form of harassment. Harassment involves making offensive or demeaning comments about a person’s age that are so severe or frequent as to impact the conditions of the work environment. Age discrimination can also include retaliation against a worker who asserts their rights under anti-age discrimination laws or assists a co-worker with asserting their rights.
Examples of Age Discrimination
Common examples of conduct that constitutes age discrimination in employment include:
- Biased, offensive, or demeaning commentary about a worker’s age, such as calling a worker “grandma” or “old man,” telling a worker they are too old to understand technology, or repeatedly asking a worker when they plan to retire
- A pattern of hiring or promoting younger candidates
- Layoffs that primarily affect older workers
- Disciplining older workers for behavior that younger employees are not disciplined for
- Excluding older workers from meetings or group projects
- Withholding or taking away desirable job assignments from older workers or giving those assignments to younger workers
- Refusing to provide older workers with training
- Giving older workers negative performance reviews or performance improvement plans despite a history of reliable performance
Does Florida Have an Age Discrimination Law?
Florida’s Civil Rights Act (FCRA) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers because of their age, including refusing to hire or firing a worker because of their age. Employers may not restrict or classify job applicants or employees based on age. However, the FCRA does permit employers to consider age as a bona fide occupational qualification, such as putting an age limit on applicants or having mandatory retirement ages for physically demanding occupations.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Age discrimination by employers is prohibited by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating against workers aged 40 and older. Applicants and employees 40 and older may not be discriminated against in areas including hiring, promotions, compensation, and terminations or the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
Who Is Covered by Age Discrimination Laws?
While the ADEA expressly covers workers aged 40 and older, the FCRA does not limit its scope to workers of a certain age. Instead, the FCRA simply prohibits discrimination because of age. The ADEA applies to employers with at least 20 regular employees in the prior or current calendar year. In contrast, the FCRA applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.
What to Do if You Face Age Discrimination
If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination in your job, you can take the following steps to strengthen your case:
- Keep notes of any discrimination you experience, including derogatory comments, negative performance reviews, or being passed over for promotions.
- Report age-based harassment to your employer or human resources department in writing.
- Gather your employment records, such as your employment agreement, employee handbook, and pay stubs or W-2s.
- Do not sign a severance agreement before an attorney has it reviewed.
- Do not quit your job due to age discrimination or harassment until you have spoken with an attorney first.
- File your claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), or have one of our experienced attorneys handle this for you.
- Get in touch with an experienced Tallahassee age discrimination lawyer.
How to Prove Age Discrimination at Work
There are several ways to prove your employer has committed age discrimination, including through direct evidence such as offensive or derogatory statements, admissions by your employer, or other adverse treatment because of your age.
However, many victims of age discrimination in employment do not have direct evidence of their employer’s discriminatory behavior. Instead, they may prove age discrimination through circumstantial evidence.
Circumstantial evidence can prove age discrimination through inference. This means a worker must establish that they:
- Are a member of a protected age class;
- Qualified for their position; and
- Were subjected to an adverse employment action that other similarly situated co-workers of different age groups were not.
Even if a worker can show this, the employer could provide evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for their employment decisions. If so, the worker can then present other evidence to prove that the explanation given by the employer was a pretext for discrimination. Evidence of pretext can include suspicious timing for an adverse employment decision, such as a worker being transferred soon after turning a certain age.
Finally, age discrimination claims can be proven through pattern-and-practice evidence, such as data showing that an employer disproportionately hires or promotes younger employees or lays off older employees.
How Long Do I Have to File an Age Discrimination Claim?
Under the ADEA, you will have 300 days from the discriminatory act to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC if a state or local law also prohibits the alleged discriminatory act.
The FCHR has a filing deadline of 365 days from the discriminatory act.
The EEOC investigates workers’ claims and may issue a notice of a right-to-sue letter, which authorizes a worker to file an age discrimination lawsuit in federal court within 90 days of receiving the right-to-sue letter.
Contact Cruz Law to ensure that you don’t miss your time to file.
Types of Damages in an Age Discrimination Lawsuit
If you face age discrimination at work, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. The damages that could be awarded in an age discrimination lawsuit depend on how you file and can include:
- Back pay, including improperly withheld raises, bonuses, or commissions
- The income you would have earned if you were not wrongfully terminated because of your age
- Value of lost job benefits, including health insurance or retirement benefits
- Job search costs incurred to find another job
- Reinstatement to your position
- Compensation for the emotional distress you suffered
- Liquidated damages, up to the amount of back pay you recover, which is awarded if your employer willfully discriminated against you
- Court costs and attorney’s fees
How a Tallahassee Employment Lawyer Can Help in an Age Discrimination Case
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you due to your age, you may be angry and unsure of what steps to take. You don’t have to navigate the legal system alone. Let a Tallahassee age discrimination lawyer from Cruz Law help you pursue your case by:
- Investigating your claim and gathering helpful evidence to build your case.
- Taking the time to answer your questions and discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation.
- Calculating your financial and personal losses, including lost income or job benefits.
- Preparing and filing your EEOC or FCHR paperwork.
- Communicating with agency officials and with your employer on your behalf to try to resolve your claim.
- Taking your case to court and trial if necessary to pursue the financial relief and justice you deserve and hold your employer accountable for its wrongful conduct.
Contact Our Tallahassee Age Discrimination Law Firm Today
If you believe you’ve faced discrimination at work due to your age, the team at Cruz Law wants to discuss your legal options during an initial consultation. You could be entitled to compensation for the financial and personal losses you have been made to suffer.
Our lawyers represent workers in employment law matters in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Contact a Tallahassee age discrimination attorney at Cruz Law to learn more about how we could help.