Just last month, the Chief Operating Officer for real estate giant, Cushman & Wakefield filed a $20 million dollar age and gender discrimination lawsuit. The COO, Suzy Reingold, alleges that she was denied the job of tri-state president, despite 15 years of management experience, in favor of younger candidate who was hired from outside the company. Ms. Reingold also alleges that company execs called older workers dinosaurs and there was a big push for younger workers and young people in management.
Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants based on age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) includes the following major components:
• Employers may not discriminate on the basis of age at any stage of the employment process against anyone aged 40 years or older
• Employers may not discriminate against older workers in job advertisements, the application process or interviews
• Employers may not discriminate against older workers in company or staff reduction efforts
• Employers may not force early retirement, but may offer early retirement incentive packages
• Employees who file complaints or lawsuits under the ADEA cannot be retaliated against for doing so
Proving an age discrimination claim
Employee claims of age discrimination can be difficult to prove. And most age discrimination cases are based on circumstantial evidence. An employee may make a case based on circumstantial evidence that adverse action was taken against them because of their age. However, the employer can argue that the employment decision was made based on factors other than age such as, poor employee performance or the need to cut costs or to downsize.
And while the number of age discrimination complaints filed has increased by 50 percent in the last decade, often employers prevail in such cases. A 2009 Supreme Court case, Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., made it more difficult for employees to prove age discrimination because it effectively increased the burden of proof for the plaintiff. Instead of just showing that age was a contributing factor in the dismissal, demotion, or the refusal to hire, plaintiffs are now required to provide convincing evidence that age was the only factor.
No discrimination case is a slam dunk – talk to an experienced attorney
No matter what type of discrimination case your company is facing, there is no guaranteed outcome. If your company is facing a discrimination lawsuit or another type of employee dispute, talk to an experienced NY employment defense law attorney today