Discriminating against employees because of their age is illegal under federal, New York State, and New York City laws. Employers cannot decide to negatively affect a job applicant or employee’ job such as by firing, failing to promote, laying off, failing to provide certain benefits, or assigning less preferable work assignments simply because of their age. The Long Island age discrimination lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are experienced in handling age discrimination lawsuits.
There are several signals that may be an indicator of age discrimination. For example, if an employer lays off older employees on the basis that the company is downsizing or having financial difficulty but then immediately hires a wave of younger employees, this is a red flag.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) each protect workers on Long Island from age discrimination. However, New York’s age discrimination laws are broader than the ADEA. Some of the main differences between these laws are illustrated in the chart below:
|New York State & New York City Law (NYSHRL/NYCHRL)||Federal Age Discrimination Law (ADEA)|
|Age Protected:||18 years old or older||40 years old or older|
|Number of Employees Needed:||4 or more employees||20 or more employees|
|Reverse Age Discrimination:||Protected||Not protected|
Just because employers cannot discriminate against job applicants or employees, does not mean that every time an older employee is not hired, it is because of age discrimination. For example, employers are allowed to not hire an applicant or impose mandatory retirement ages because of a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), meaning a trait or characteristic possessed by employees in protected class. Talking to a Long Island employment attorney at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC can help determine whether or not age discrimination exists in the workplace.
To establish that singling out an employee because of his or her age is appropriate, employers must show that excluding the employee in that particular age group is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business. Courts may be more likely to agree with the employer’s BFOQ defense if for example, the public’s safety may otherwise be at issue.
Although this defense is very narrow and courts are very careful when deciding these cases, a BFOQ exception relating to age has allowed airlines to impose mandatory retirement age requirements for airline pilots. Courts have allowed this defense for airline pilots on the basis that it is reasonable to believe that airline pilots, after reaching a certain age, are more likely to make errors that could pose a safety risk and possibly endanger the lives of others.
Unlike what most people may think, older and younger employees are protected from age discrimination in New York. If an employer fires several young employees simply because the employer is biased toward younger individuals this is called reverse discrimination and it is not tolerated under New York law. Reverse discrimination laws however, do not prevent employers from setting certain hiring standards based on experience. In other words, job postings that require a minimum level of experience are permissible as long as it is not directly correlated to age.Harassment Based on Age
Harassing employees because of their age is illegal and is a subset of age discrimination. Harassment occurs when employers creates a hostile work environment because of the employee’s age. For example, if you fear going to work because of an employer’s intimidating or offensive behavior that relates to your age, then you may be protected.
Repetitive age-based comments made in a demeaning manner may create a hostile work environment. It is important to understand that while hostile work environments are prohibited, random comments made in a joking manner or that only occur once or twice may not be protected. Famighetti & Weinick PLLC's Long Island age discrimination lawyers can review your age discrimination case.Retaliation
Employees who complain about age discrimination or hostile work environments and are subsequently fired, demoted, or suffer another negative employment action are also protected. For example, employees cannot be fired simply because they either filed a complaint internally with the company’s human resources department or filed a discrimination claim with a federal or state agency such as the EEOC.
Victims of workplace age discrimination should speak to an experienced Long Island age discrimination attorney, such as one of the Long Island age discrimination attorneys of Famighetti & Weinick PLLC.