Proving Age Discrimination in New Jersey

Employment Attorneys Serving Northern and Central New Jersey

Age discrimination in the workplace

No form of workplace discrimination is acceptable, but discriminatory practices are unfortunately more common than they should be. Age discrimination is one often-overlooked type that can have a drastic effect on someone's ability to earn a living or comfortably retire. In fact, a recent New York Times article found that more than half of workers over 50 lose jobs before they can retire, and only 10 percent of those are able to recover their previous earning power.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, or NJLAD, and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, explicitly prohibit age-based discrimination. Here is an overview of what age discrimination is and how you can fight it in court.

What Is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination is classified as any adverse employment action that an employer takes against a worker because of their age. Adverse employment actions can include:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Refusal to promote
  • Reduction in pay or benefits
  • Refusal to hire
  • Reduction of hours
  • Unfavorable transfer
  • Reduction of resources
  • Workplace harassment because of age

How the Attorneys At Green Savits Address Discrimination Claims

At the initial consultation, our Firm gathers facts from you to assess your case.  Once you hire our firm, we then send a letter to the employer for two different purposes detailing the basis for the claim.  First, we attempt to negotiate your claim as a good settlement before costly litigation is always preferable.  Second, our Firm wants to learn how the employer intends to defend its actions so that we can see if the employer’s justification is a pretext for age discrimination. We then are in a better position to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case for litigation.

How To File An Age Discrimination Claim

Age discrimination cases can be brought under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.  Our firm strongly recommends that the case be brought under New Jersey law since the remedies are better and the New Jersey state courts are more even handed in assessing discrimination claims than federal courts.

Under federal law, if you feel you've been a victim of age discrimination, your first required step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. You must do this within 300 days of the adverse employment action taking place.

Once the EEOC receives your complaint, it will start an investigation and possibly attempt to mediate your grievance. If mediation is impossible, the EEOC will determine the merits of your charge and more likely than not will send you a "right to sue" letter. Once you receive that, you have 90 days to file your lawsuit in federal court.

You may also bring a lawsuit in state court under the NJLAD or file an administrative charge of discrimination through the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights within 180 days of the last incident of discrimination.  Our Firm recommends in the vast majority of cases to file a lawsuit in New Jersey state court.

If you are a New Jersey resident who works in New York, you may file a lawsuit in state court under either the New York City Human Rights Law or the New York State Human Rights Law, depending on whether you work in the city or upstate. Both laws require the suit to be filed within three years.

How To Prove An Age Discrimination Claim

There are two ways to prove that your employer discriminated against you because of your age:

  • Direct evidence: This is when your employer actually states that their reason for taking adverse employment action is your age. For example, if you're told orally or in writing that you're being denied a promotion because you're too old, that is direct evidence of age discrimination. Employers rarely make statements like this because they know doing so risks a lawsuit they would easily lose.  
  • Circumstantial evidence: This is the presentation of facts and circumstances that create an inference of discrimination. In these cases, the employee must prove that the employer's stated reason for the adverse action was simply a pretext for discrimination. For example, if your former employer claimed it fired you because your position was eliminated, but then hired a younger person to fill your role, that is a pretext. A jury may find that age discrimination was the real reason for your dismissal.

What Damages Can I Recover From An Age Discrimination Claim?

The damages you can recover depend on whether your lawsuit was filed in New Jersey state court, New York City or state, or federal court. Under New Jersey and New York City law, you may be eligible for damages such as:

  • Back pay and benefits
  • Front pay and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Reimbursement of attorney's fees

Under New York state law, discrimination victims can receive:

  • Back pay and benefits
  • Front pay and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • New York state does not award punitive damages in discrimination cases or reimburse attorney's fees

Under federal law, your damages may include:

  • Back pay and benefits
  • Front pay and benefits
  • Liquidated  damages, which are capped at two times the amount of back pay awarded

Schedule Your New Jersey Age Discrimination Lawsuit Today

The experienced workplace discrimination attorneys at Green Savits LLC are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees. If you feel you've been a victim of age discrimination, they will fight to help you find justice. Our attorneys serve Florham Park and surrounding areas of northern and central New Jersey. Call (973) 695-7777 today to schedule a consultation.

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