For older individuals in the workforce, especially those looking for jobs, age discrimination is a big problem. Despite the anti-discrimination laws that protect against employment discrimination on the basis of age, job applicants are still overlooked on that basis every day. There are some studies that suggest women face more age discrimination than men, especially when applying for a job.
Field experiments show women more prone to age discrimination
The National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, non-profit organization, conducted two large-scale field experiments to assess employment discrimination. These "resume correspondence" studies involved sending out fake resumes that were identical, with the exception of a few characteristics that would establish the applicant's age. According to the results of the study, older applicants received calls for interviews at a much lower rate than younger applicants. The study also showed that the callback rate for women, regardless of occupation, was much lower than for men of the same age. Interestingly, older men did not have lower callback rates than younger men, with the exception of janitorial positions.
There are laws against age and gender discrimination
Federal anti-discrimination laws exist that prohibit discrimination on the basis of both gender and age. Title VII makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex or gender. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful to discrimination against someone, age 40 or older, because of their age. Despite these laws, age discrimination against older women still exists. They can be tough cases to prove, as well.
Proving age discrimination
A large number of age discrimination cases involve layoffs or reduction-in-force. These may be some of the most difficult cases to prove because of the employer's apparently legitimate reason for termination. In such cases, the best way to prove age discrimination is to establish a systematic pattern of discrimination within the company. For instance, if an employer claims it was forced to lay off 15% of its employees for economic reasons, but most if not all of the employees laid off were over the age of 55, you may have a persuasive case of age discrimination.
Using layoffs to disguise age discrimination
Again, it is quite common for employers to use a reduction-in-force as a cover for getting rid of employees for illegal reasons. Even when an employer claims to have been following facially neutral layoff procedures, the choices they make in deciding which employees to let go may demonstrate the underlying discriminatory animus. If you believe you have been the victim of a reduction-in-force, consider whether you should have been the logically choice. If that is the case, then you may have a claim for discrimination.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.