A long career, with its accrual of experience, makes older employees well-positioned for promotion opportunities. Despite this, some employers opt for younger employees. Sometimes their motivation is financial: they feel they can pay less experienced workers with lower wages. Though being passed over for a job opportunity because you’re ‘overqualified’ is sometimes a thinly veiled justification for age discrimination, it may not qualify as legal discrimination.
How the law prohibits age discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects NJ employees from age discrimination by ) and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Here are some of the ways to recognize age discrimination in the workplace:
- Biased employment action: If an employer makes a decision (based on your age) regarding your employment status, which might include promotion denial, refusal to hire or job termination.
- Adverse working conditions: These conditions could occur via negative evaluations without a reasonable premise, special considerations compared to other employees (such as more monitoring or surveillance), inappropriately negative comments, verbal threats, harassment.
- Intimidation: These employer actions include anything that would prevent a reasonable person from pursuing their rights.
Understanding your rights
There are nuances to the age discrimination laws that could allow for a job termination because the company is losing money, but not because they will be required to pay retirement benefits soon or that the benefits for an older person are more costly. These intricacies can make discrimination claims tricky to navigate for an employee. Your years of hard work should be rewarded, not undermined by an unscrupulous employer. If you feel like an employer is using your age unfairly or discriminating against you, an attorney with experience in employment law can help you decide if you have a viable case.