Ageism is increasingly common as the largest generation of workers gets closer to retirement. Every year, companies seek to bring fresh energy to their businesses, and often they do this by laying off or firing employees who they deem too old to fit into their new vision. If you believe you have been the victim of ageism, it’s time to contact an attorney for wrongful termination of employment in Jackson County, Missouri.
What Qualifies as Ageism?
Proving that you’ve been the victim of ageism can be complicated. Naturally, no business will tell you outright that your age is why they’re letting you go. However, you can look for several key clues to determine if your case fits the bill. Here are a few things to look for:
A Major Culture Shift Within the Company
Often, when companies want to eliminate older employees, they claim that they’re trying to reinvent the culture of the company. You’ll probably hear phrases like “making the company more agile” or “youthful.” These should be red flags for any employee over the age of forty who might soon find themselves being replaced.
The Company Is Hiring Lots of People Fresh Out of School
You have years of experience on your side, so why is your company suddenly bringing in new hires who have never stepped foot in an office? The reality is that many companies know they can negotiate a better deal for themselves if they go for someone without a lot of experience. In the end, the raises and benefits you’ve earned over the years could be the very thing they’re trying to eliminate.
The unfortunate reality is that with wage stagnation across many industries, new hires are willing to work for less than ever before, even in industries that require a good deal of training and expertise. This leads us to our next sign of ageism.
Your Company Has Stopped Offering Raises and Benefits
When a company has decided that you are costing them too much to keep, they will stop celebrating the hard work you’ve done and become much tighter with any raises or benefit increases. This is especially true during times of economic turmoil when companies have an easy excuse for tightening their budgets.
Unfortunately, these holds on raises tend to linger long after the economy has recovered, and they may be a sign that your company is reevaluating the cost of keeping you employed.
There Is a Pattern of Forcing Older Employers Out
One of the easiest ways to know if ageism is on the table is to look around you. If the company has adopted a new policy that involves consistently pushing older employees out, even if they are not firing them or laying them off directly, you may have a case. This is typically done by bringing in a much younger boss, causing confrontation, making snide remarks about employees’ ages, or generally giving more seasoned employees the worst parts of the job.
In addition, you may find that if you complain about your treatment, there will be retaliation in the form of negative performance reviews or even worse treatment. Both of these are signs that the move was intentional and designed to get you out of the way.
How Common Is Ageism in the Workplace?
You may be shocked to learn that, according to research done by AARP, more than 60% of employees over the age of 50 have experienced or witnessed some form of ageism in the workplace. While ageism remains most prevalent in the hiring period, when older employees are not able to land a job they are well qualified for based on their age, there is still plenty of ageism happening day-to-day within companies.
As the retirement age has risen over the last several decades, it is easy to see why more and more employees over forty are struggling with the reality of a workplace turned against them. The number of age discrimination suits that have resulted in payouts also points to a systemic problem that we should all be concerned about.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been the Victim of Ageism?
If you believe you’ve been the victim of ageism in Jackson County, Missouri, you should start by documenting everything. In order to make a case, you need to have clear examples of why you believe ageism was a factor at play in your situation. Next, you need to bring the evidence you have to an expert in the field of age discrimination law.
Why You Need an Attorney for Wrongful Termination of Employment
Ageism falls under a special section of the federal law known as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA for short. This section of the law applies to anyone over the age of forty and applies from the time you apply for a job all the way through your termination. In other words, you have protection no matter how long you’ve worked for the company, and even if you never worked for the company at all.
However, reaching a resolution is not as simple as filing a complaint. Because employment matters are handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there is a very specific process you have to file to get your case heard.
Choosing the Right Attorney in Jackson County, Missouri
When you have all of your evidence gathered, you need to choose a local attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of the law and familiar with the steps of the process. The right attorney will have a strong track record of taking on employee complaints and holding companies accountable. They should also be able to give you a general timeline for how your complaint will be investigated and what steps come next.
You should be sure you are hiring an attorney with expertise in employment law. Every form and deadline needs to be properly met in order for your case to move forward. In addition, your attorney will need to bring in witnesses and conduct interviews to determine if there are any other complicating factors that could stand in your way.
Most companies are not interested in fighting a lengthy legal battle. More often than not, they will insist on going to mediation instead to settle the case. Only you and your attorney can determine whether the settlement offer is fair and just. If you decide not to accept the settlement offer, the next step will be preparing for a trial.
Going to trial is a daunting experience, but if it is the right move for your case, you want to be sure you have the best lawyer in your corner. For employees who experience ageism, it can mean significant changes in retirement plans and quality of life. A well-organized case could help you overcome these challenges in time and ensure that other employees do not face the same type of discrimination in the future.
If you’ve been fired or laid off due to ageism, now is the time to start building your case. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC today to schedule a consultation and find out more about the process of filing an age discrimination complaint in court. With the right documentation and representation, it is possible to win an ageism suit.