Age Discrimination in Hiring and Promotion

By Douglas Lipsky

Age discrimination is a persistent problem in workplaces in New York and around the country. Fighting back against unfair treatment based on your age is challenging because employers have the upper hand in making decisions about hiring and promotions. Let’s look at age discrimination in hiring and promotion and what to do about it. 

How To Spot Age Discrimination in Hiring and Promotion

Generally, age discrimination occurs when an organization treats employees or applicants aged 40 and over less favorably than others. Such conduct is illegal under certain federal, state, and local laws. Specific examples of age discrimination in hiring and promotion include:

  • Employers stating a preference for “young” or “energetic” individuals in job postings
  • An employer rejecting an older applicant because of stereotypes associated with age, even if the applicant is fully capable of performing the job tasks
  • Denying training or promotional opportunities to older employees based on their age
  • Replacing older workers with younger ones during restructuring or layoffs

Federal, State, and City Laws Prohibit Age Discrimination

Several laws protect workers against age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects individuals 40 years or older from discrimination in hiring, promotion, and other aspects of employment. 

State and city laws provide even broader protections. The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibit age discrimination against individuals 18 and over and cover employers of all sizes, including those with fewer than 20 employees who are not subject to the ADEA.

How to Fight Back Against Age Discrimination

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of age discrimination, you can take several steps. Document all incidents you believe show evidence of age discrimination, including inappropriate comments, denied promotions, and unfavorable job assignments. If comfortable, communicate with your employer about your concerns. If these steps do not resolve the issue, you can file an administrative complaint or a civil lawsuit. 

Working with an experienced employment lawyer can significantly enhance your ability to navigate these complexities and protect your rights. They can guide you through filing a complaint, collecting evidence, and, if necessary, representing you in court. In a successful lawsuit, you may recover the following damages:

  • Back pay – compensation you would have earned from the time of the discriminatory act to the time of a judgment or settlement
  • Front pay – money you would have earned in the future, typically in cases where reinstatement isn’t feasible
  • Compensatory damages – awarded to compensate you for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the discrimination or for emotional distress
  • Attorneys’ fees and court costs

The damages available can vary depending on the specifics of your case and whether you’re proceeding under federal or state law. Filing a lawsuit can be complicated, and the strategy for proving discrimination varies case by case, which makes having an experienced age discrimination lawyer essential. 

The Takeaway

Facing age discrimination in hiring or promotion can be emotionally and professionally challenging. However, legal avenues are available, and our skilled employment lawyers are ready to help.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.