Age discrimination: Recognizing signs in the workplace

Age discrimination lawyers

In a perfect world, employees would be hired and evaluated based on their knowledge, skills, and work ethic. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. Discrimination in its many forms can make for a toxic work environment – affecting the victim of discrimination as well as other employees and the workplace as a whole. Age discrimination is one type of workplace discrimination that is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as under many state and local laws. This type of discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee unfairly because of the employee’s age. Unfortunately, age discrimination can be hard to prove, and sometimes it can be hard to recognize.

Common examples of age discrimination

Here are some common examples of age discrimination in the workplace:

  • Promoting a younger, less experienced or less qualified employee
  • Paying older employees less than younger employees for the same job
  • Making jokes or comments about an employee’s age
  • Excluding an employee from certain meetings or activities because of his or her age
  • Suddenly giving an older employee a bad review or scrutinizing his or her work
  • Pressuring an employee to retire (or questioning an employee about retirement plans)
  • Using age-specific words in a job description (for example, “join our young and dynamic team”)

If you suspect that you are experiencing age discrimination, you should speak to an attorney. An attorney from our firm can initiate a full investigation of your case and help you determine a course of legal action.

Remember: Age discrimination is wrong and it is illegal – and victims may be eligible for monetary compensation.

Contact Alan Lescht and Associates today if you have experienced age discrimination at work. For a free phone consultation, please call 202-463-6036.

The baffling reality of age discrimination: How too much experience can impede your career

When it comes to the workforce, experience can cut both ways. Many advanced careers require years or decades of demonstrated experience. However, older workers are increasingly finding themselves shut out of career opportunities simply because of age discrimination.

Employers sometimes overlook well-qualified seniors in favor of fresh young faces. When they make employment decisions purely based on age, however, they may be breaking the law.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it illegal for most employers to discriminate against those ages 40 and older. Unlawful and unfair treatment can happen at any stage of the employment process, including:

  • Hiring
  • Salary and benefits
  • Working conditions
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Layoffs, firings or forced retirements

What can you do about age discrimination?

You might be entitled to bring a legal action against your employer for compensation, reinstatement (if appropriate) and punitive damages. Before doing anything, though, talk with a lawyer about your rights. Don’t put off this important first step. If you wait too long, important deadlines could pass and evidence could fade, leaving you out of luck.

The problem of proof

You might know, deep down, that you were a victim of age discrimination. Proving it is another matter. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a smoking gun, you likely won’t have a concrete admission from your employer that their unfair actions were based on your age.

Fortunately, many types of evidence might shed light on your situation. For example:

  • Perhaps your employer has engaged in an ongoing pattern of discriminatory action against older employees
  • Maybe other employees have witnessed offensive remarks or persistent harassment
  • Maybe you reported the age discrimination internally and your concerns were ignored – or, worse, you were fired in retaliation

You should never feel forced to remain silent about illegal age discrimination. By making your voice heard, you can seek justice and accountability – not only for yourself, but also for others in similar situations. Contact Alan Lescht and Associates today if you have been discriminated against because of your age.

Pregnancy discrimination: Pregnant nurse forced out of her job at the clinic

True story – well, to protect confidentiality, it’s true enough. This is the story of a nurse who had trouble getting pregnant, and once she did get pregnant, her employer only made things worse.

We’ll call her Nancy.

Nancy had a problem. She wanted a new job. Though the work was often very fulfilling, she’d had enough of her role as a PICU nurse. She wanted something new and different to do within the field of nursing. And, frankly, she was sick of the long hours on her feet and the night shifts.

So she set out to find one.

Now, given the hot job market for nurses, Nancy’s high performance in the PICU, and a great referral from a nursing friend and colleague, it wasn’t difficult for Nancy to find a new job as a nurse supporting neurosurgeons in a clinical setting. It suited her well – great pay, relatively fulfilling work, regular 9-to-5 hours.

This was just the type of thing Nancy needed, especially since she wanted to start a family.

But getting pregnant was Nancy’s other problem.

She and her husband had been actively trying to get pregnant for months. Now, they were going down the path of assisted reproduction, with the possibility of IVF looming in the back of Nancy’s mind. Nancy was starting to wonder whether she’d ever be able to get pregnant.

But, no matter how it happened, it would be their first child, and Nancy wanted that more than anything.

Nancy gets the job AND gets pregnant. Then she’s forced out.

At first, it seems like Nancy has solved both of her problems. Shortly after she finds that great new job at the clinic, a miracle of miracles: Nancy discovers she’s pregnant, no IVF required, just a bit more time than she and her husband figured they’d need to get pregnant with their first.

Ultimately, the doctor orders bed rest.

Fast-forward a few months: Nancy’s starting to show, which is great, but it turns out that this pregnancy won’t be free of some bumps and bruises. The doctor wants Nancy in for more-than-regular check-ups, to monitor Baby’s health and Nancy’s, which requires that she be out of the office regularly. Nancy’s superiors are supportive, but HR grudgingly goes along with it.

What can you do, right?

Nancy feels she has no choice but to quit.

But then, another couple months go by, and to protect Baby and bring it to as full term as possible, the doctor orders bed rest.

This Nancy’s employer will not accept.

HR refuses to make a reasonable accommodation and allow Nancy to work from home (which other employees at this clinic have done in the past) as per “company policy” and because Nancy hasn’t “been there long enough” (less than a year), citing eligibility under FMLA. (All this despite the assertions of Nancy’s boss that they value her contributions and want Nancy to keep working there.)

Ultimately, Nancy feels she has no choice but to quit.

Did Nancy try to game the system when she got pregnant? Or is she somebody who desperately needs legal protection?

You’re not alone. Things like this happen to people more often than it should. If it ever happens to you, talk with a lawyer who understands. Suing your former employer is one thing – but suing as a nurse is another. The healthcare field is a small world. We’ll help you walk through the pros and cons.

Retaliation among most common EEO claims of federal employees

Federal employees facing discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace have the right to bring an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint. These complaints can be powerful tools to hold employers accountable and to ensure that federal workplaces are as free as possible of illegal discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) compiles data on EEO complaints. The most recent report, titled Annual Report on the Federal Work Force sheds light on the most common types of complaints federal employees make.

Retaliation is the biggest issue in EEO complaints

In fiscal year 2014, the most recent year this data was compiled, federal employees filed 15,013 EEO complaints, with many complaints involving multiple allegations. In 2014, federal employees filed 7,018 retaliation complaints. Under federal law, employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee who engages in a protected activity.

Harassment was a common allegation as well. In 2014, federal employees made 6,102 harassment complaints. These complaints do not relate to sexual harassment, but rather other allegations of illegal workplace harassment. Discrimination was frequently alleged as well, with age discrimination being the most common type of claim. In 2014, 4,697 federal employees filed age discrimination complaints. The second most common type of complaint was discrimination on the basis of race, with 3,838 complaints. Disability discrimination was a close third, with 3,817 complaints.

Any federal employee facing retaliation, discrimination or harassment at work should take careful steps to protect themselves. A skilled lawyer will be critical in presenting a powerful case based in the facts and law. Contact Alan Lescht and Associates today if you are a federal employee who has been discriminated or retaliated against.

EEOC: Sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII

The EEOC recently ruled that sexual orientation discrimination claims may be brought under Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. The Commission’s recent ruling in Baldwin v. Dep’t of Transportation, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133080, 2015 WL 4397641 (July 16, 2015), represents another significant victory in the hard-fought battle for the rights of the LGBT community.

The case arose after a man in Florida alleged that his employer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) repeatedly failed to promote him to a frontline manager position because he is an openly gay man. Although the EEOC has not yet issued a decision on the merits of the discrimination claim, the July 10, 2015 decision held that the FAA is required to process Mr. Baldwin’s complaint of discrimination based on his sexual orientation, stating: “[s]exual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex,” thereby creating an entitlement to protection under Title VII.

This ruling directly impacts federal employees because it applies to all federal agencies. In short, this decision affords federal employees the immediate right to be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Many believe that the next step in LGBT rights will involve federal courts’ similar interpretation of Title VII to include prohibition of sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector but, at present, those waters remain uncharted.

Mr. Baldwin’s case represents a significant step forward for the LGBT community and for federal employees. If you believe that your federal employer has subjected you to discrimination based on your sexual orientation, you should immediately contact a federal employment attorney who will assist you in determining your rights under this changing area of the law.

Source: Baldwin v. Dep’t of Transportation, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133080, 2015 WL 4397641 (July 16, 2015) pdf

Statistics about sexual harassment and pornography at work

When many Washington, D.C. residents think about sexual harassment, they may not think about sexually explicit materials that may constitute harassment. This could be many things, but generally, sexually explicit materials are photos, or anything similar, — of pornographic nature. These images are not allowed in the workplace. Despite this, some employees do engage in inappropriate online activity during work hours.

When an employee is engaging in inappropriate activity, this behavior could result in another employee feeling sexually harassed. This may happen intentionally, such as when an employee shows another employee pornographic content. Or, it could happen unintentionally. For example, an employee walked by and witnessed another employee viewing pornographic content on his or her computer.

In 2003, individuals with the organization Business and Legal Reports questioned 474 human resource professionals about pornography and sexual harassment. Of the 474 professionals, two-thirds of the group admitted to finding pornography on employees’ computers. Incredibly, more than 40 percent of these human resources personnel discovered the pornography more than once.

This study shows that pornography viewers were likely reprimanded the first time for their Internet activities. However, this did not deter more than 40 percent of them from engaging in the behavior again. In addition, a monthly report from Message Labs in March of 2004 concluded that 70 percent of Internet traffic to pornographic websites took place during daytime work hours. These statistics are troublesome- since it seems that this may lead to an increase in sexual harassment accusations in the workplace.

Some victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may not feel inclined to report the behavior, for fear of retaliation or unfair treatment at work. Victims may want to speak with a sexual harassment lawyer to discuss their options for taking action.

Source: Covenant Eyes, “Pornography Statistics – In the Workplace,” accessed on Jan. 13, 2015