While the age discrimination attorneys at Lenzo & Reis know that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 (LAD), and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. 621 (ADEA), make it unlawful for employers to engage in age discrimination, they also understand that age discrimination is one of the most common forms of workplace discrimination. In fact, they receive calls about workplace age discrimination daily, and, as a result, regularly handle these types of claims. While older workers sometimes feel like they are helpless when faced with unlawful age discrimination, you should know that Chris Lenzo and Claudia Reis are unwilling to tolerate discrimination on the basis of age at work and will ensure that you don’t have to either.Why is Age Discrimination so Prevalent?
Sadly, even though the Law Against Discrimination was amended in 1962 to prohibit age discrimination in employment, older workers are often targeted and either discriminated against or harassed on the basis of their age.
Many private-sector employers have been on a long-term drive to cut costs and increase profits by reducing the size of their workforces. Older employees are often prime targets in such reductions because they generally have the highest compensation.
Another reason that age discrimination occurs so often is that some supervisors believe in the stereotypes that younger employees are more driven, work harder, are willing to work longer hours, are go-getters, will bring new ideas to the table, are better able to connect with younger customers, are more energetic, and are more willing to sacrifice their personal lives to do well at work. Other supervisors simply believe that once employees hit a certain age, they should step aside and allow jobs to open up for younger workers.What if I am Being Treated Unfavorably not Because of my Age But Because of my Relationship With Someone Who is Older or Younger?
Employers are also engaging in unlawful age discrimination if they target employees for unfavorable consequences because those employees are friends with, married to, in relationships with, and/or otherwise associate with people of a particular age. New Jersey attorneys who regularly handle age discrimination cases commonly refer to that type of claim as associational discrimination, which means treating employees harshly because they associate with older or younger people.What Does Age Discrimination Look Like
Age discrimination can take on various forms.
Sometimes discrimination on the basis of age can be subtle and involve age-based statements, generalizations, or stereotypes. Examples of subtle statements that are obviously discriminatory on the basis of age include
- using what we like to describe as “code words” such as when employers talk about hiring or promoting “energetic” employees, which is code for young workers,
- referring to younger employees as “new blood” or “fresh blood” and as having “fresh ideas” and being “more flexible”,
- describing older workers as being “incapable of adapting” or stuck in their ways or even having outdated ideas or ways of thinking,
- repeatedly asking about older workers’ retirement intentions or succession plans,
- referring to workers as “old man” or “old woman” or “senior” or even “boomer”, and
- calling younger employees “junior” or saying they are “wet behind the ears”.
On other occasions, age discrimination does not involve statements but, instead, impacts employment decisions. For example, the following are types of illegal employment actions if made on the basis of workers’ ages:
- refusing to interview, hire or promote someone because of age,
- firing employees on the basis of their age,
- disproportionately including workers, such as older employees, in reductions in force or lay-offs,
- refusing to promote younger workers to positions of authority simply on the basis of their age,
- targeting workers for discipline, PIPs (performance improvement plans), or documented performance issues because of their age,
- discriminatory pay practices on the basis of employees’ ages, and
- targeting job ads to workers based on their age instead of experience and qualifications such as when job postings target “recent graduates”.
At higher levels of an organization, we sometimes even find succession planning documents that explicitly reference employees’ ages and talk about whether older employees will be there long enough before retirement to make it worthwhile to promote them. Studies show that more employees are postponing or forgoing retirement either because they cannot afford to stop working or because they want to stay relevant and active. For those people living in New Jersey, age discrimination, or “ageism,” can be particularly devastating because older workers tend to have a difficult (if not impossible) time finding other jobs.How Do the Protections Against Age Discrimination Differ in our State Law and Federal Law
While the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 limits protections against age discrimination only to workers who are forty or older, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is not so limited. In fact, in 1999, the Supreme Court of New Jersey declared that workers discriminated against solely on the basis of their youth may also bring a claim for age discrimination under New Jersey law. Bergen Commercial Bank v. Sisler, 157 N.J. 188 (1999).What Should You Do if You are Being Discriminated Against Because of Your Age?
You should know that you have the legal right to be free from discrimination at work. The experienced age discrimination attorneys at Lenzo & Reis do not tolerate workplace age discrimination and you should not either. We have successfully represented thousands of New Jersey employees discriminated against on the basis of their age. Throughout our collective almost fifty years in this field, we have achieved record amounts for clients who were fired, denied promotions, given poor performance evaluations, and otherwise discriminated against just because of their age. But we do not necessarily consider those settlements and verdicts our greatest achievements. Instead, what we count as among our greatest achievements is the sense of dignity, respect, and self-worth that we are able to return to our hardworking clients.Call New Jersey’s Age Discrimination Attorneys If You are Being Subjected to Age Discrimination
If you are ready to put an end to or take action against the unlawful age discrimination that you have endured, you should contact the workplace age discrimination attorneys of Lenzo & Reis either by calling us at (973) 845-9922 or by completing our online form by clicking here.
We proudly represent workers throughout all of New Jersey including those located in Morristown, Newark, Hackensack, Somerset, and Jersey City.