Although age discrimination does not get the flashy media coverage like other forms of discrimination, such as racial, gender, religious or ethnic, typically do, age discrimination remains a serious and disturbing factor in employment. At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, we provide comprehensive legal representation to both employees and employers who have been troubled by the problem.
Whether you are an employee who has been discriminated against because of your age or an employer who conscientiously wants to be in full compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws or has been falsely accused of age discrimination, we are here to help. We have a well-earned reputation for integrity as well as for successful negotiation and litigation throughout the greater Chicago area.
The harm caused by age discrimination in the workplace is widespread, affecting the well-being of middle-aged and senior individuals and their families. The pain caused is not only financial, it denies large numbers of competent, reliable people the respect and sense of worth every human being deserves.
Laws Designed to Protect Against Age Discrimination in the Workplace
In the State of Illinois, you are protected from age discrimination in your place of employment by both federal and state laws:
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects employees 40 years of age and older from discriminatory hiring, promotion, discharge, wage disparity, or “conditions or privileges of employment.” The ADEA applies to all employers with 20 or more employees.
- Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits all public employers and private employers from discriminating because of age in recruitment, hiring, promotion, or renewal of employment on the basis of age. The IHRA extends the parameters of the ADEA by making the state law apply to all businesses with one or more employees.
- Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) is an amendment to the ADEA that safeguards older workers’ employee benefits from being denied due to age.
In spite of these explicitly worded laws to combat age discrimination, practices like ours that focus on employment discrimination are kept busy defending the rights of older employees who have withstood many different types of unfair labor practices.
Coverage the Law Provides
Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is important to know that, while job applicants can be asked whether or not they are 18 years of age in order to verify whether they can be legally employed for full-time work, it is against the law to ask their specific age.
Of course, age is often discernable by appearance and data points — such as when the individual was first employed — so lawsuits claiming age discrimination can be challenging to win. This is why you need the counsel of a highly-skilled, accomplished age discrimination attorney.
It is also essential to be aware that an individual cannot be terminated in retaliation for questions or complaints about age discrimination concerns, and that employers are forbidden to post job notices that specify age limits unless there is a “bona fide occupational qualification” in play. Incidentally, the age of the offender in age discrimination lawsuits has no bearing on the outcome of the cage. An employer can be 20 years older than the individual he or she rejects for being too old.
Who Enforces Age Discrimination?
At the federal level, age discrimination in employment is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for investigating charges of age discrimination and pursuing enforcement when violations occur.
In Illinois, age discrimination is enforced by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The IDHR has the power to investigate age discrimination claims that occur in Illinois and work to resolve cases through mediation or conciliation. For cases that cannot be resolved, the IDHR may file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee.
Employees who have experienced age discrimination may also hire a private attorney to file a lawsuit against the employer directly in court to recover damages. An attorney can assist in gathering evidence, filing claims with EEOC/IDHR, negotiating settlements, and litigating the case if necessary.
What Are The Protected Age Classes In Illinois?
In Illinois, there are two main protected age classes covered by state and federal age discrimination laws:
- Age 40 and older – Covered by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Illinois Human Rights Act. This protects workers 40 years old and above from age-based discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
- Under Age 40 – While not covered by the ADEA, workers under 40 are still protected from age discrimination by the Illinois Human Rights Act. For example, favoring older workers over younger workers can constitute illegal discrimination.
So in Illinois, all workers over age 18 are protected from age discrimination under state law. However, older workers ages 40+ have additional federal protections and potential remedies under the ADEA if discrimination occurs. Consulting an attorney can help determine which laws apply in your specific situation.
Reasons for Filing an Employment Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Although employment age discrimination can be well-camouflaged and hard to ferret out, with a savvy attorney you have a decided advantage. Having worked on such cases for years with a track record of remarkable success, we can offer you valuable counsel in regard to any of the following instances of Chicago age discrimination:
- Not being hired (or even interviewed) although you are well-qualified for the job
- Failing to be promoted or to receive a raise or bonus
- Being paid a lower salary than younger employees doing the same work
- Being unfairly disciplined, treated badly, or harassed
- Being refused training or travel opportunities
- Having to put up with inferior working conditions
- Being harassed, taunted, or demeaned because of your age
- Being forced into retirement when you are still capable of working
- Being wrongfully terminated
The Chicago age discrimination attorneys at Foote Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil have keen minds and well-honed strategies. We will use both to fight for your rights, in and out of the courtroom.
You can count on us to listen carefully to the details of your story, collect any written or posted evidence of age discrimination against you or anyone else by your employer, and interview witnesses.
If you have been subjected to ongoing harassment because of your age, been mocked, imitated, or referred to in an offensive manner, make sure your harasser knows that she/he has gone too far. If the distressing behavior doesn’t stop, speak to your supervisor or to the human resources department. If these measures don’t result in an improvement, contact us.
We Will Take Immediate Action to Protect You and Win You the Damages You Deserve
Contacting our age discrimination team will give you the leverage you need to turn the tables. Our age discrimination lawyers located in Chicago are ready to help you in your unique case. Depending on your particular circumstances, we will fight to get you rehired, to win the bonus you were forced to forfeit, or receive the training you were denied. In addition, we will seek damages for the mistreatment you have endured, such as lost income (back and front pay), lost benefits, emotional distress, and, in some cases, punitive damages.