We like to think that employers value us for our ability to perform the job requirements well. In an ideal world, employees would be treated fairly and equally, regardless of our differences. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination continues to pose a problem for many employees across all sectors of the job market. Even though federal and state laws prohibit acts of discrimination in the workplace, these incidents still happen with surprising frequency. As the average retirement age in the United States has risen from 57 in 1991 to 66 in 2022, more older individuals are remaining in the workforce for longer stretches of time. However, incidents of age discrimination are rising, particularly among women between the ages of 64 and 66. If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your age, you may be able to take legal action against this unlawful practice and secure economic and compensatory damages for the harm you suffered. This post will highlight some basic information about age discrimination laws in New York and how enlisting the trusted guidance of a caring employment law attorney can help you hold your employer legally and financially accountable for these unfair (and unlawful) practices.

Federal Protections Against Age Discrimination

First, it’s important to recognize that acts of age discrimination in the workplace may violate federal, state, and city laws. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which generally applies to companies that employ 20 or more individuals and to individuals over the age of 40, prohibits employers from failing or refusing to hire any individual because of their age. Additionally, an employee’s age may not be the basis for determining compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Employers cannot deny a worker a promotion because of their age, nor can the employer terminate an employee based on their age. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits age-based discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Essentially, any worker over the age of 40 who believes that they were denied a job offer, promotion, or salary raise because of their age may qualify for legal protection under these federal laws.

Age Discrimination Protections in New York State

In addition to federal protections, New York laws aim to prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on age. New York State’s Human Rights Law, originally passed in 1945 as the Law Against Discrimination, prevents workplace, housing, and education discrimination based on a person’s age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability. What’s more, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), enacted in 1977, protects workers against age discrimination, regardless of age (unlike federal law that only protects workers over the age of 40). Generally, the NYCHRL applies to businesses that employ four or more employees. It’s important to recognize that these legal protections also prohibit age-based harassment in the workplace. Under these laws, an employer may be held legally liable for encouraging, tolerating, or failing to address hostile work environments for employees. When you meet with your New York employment law attorney, you can discuss the specifics of your situation and determine the most strategic path forward to fight back against these discriminatory practices.

The Challenges of Enforcing Age Discrimination Laws

Even though an employer may be engaging in age discrimination practices, it can be challenging to enforce anti-discrimination laws. A successful age discrimination case requires the worker to demonstrate a causal relationship between their age and the adverse employment action, which can be difficult to establish. Instances of age discrimination are rarely straightforward; it’s extremely rare for an employer to explicitly state that you are not being promoted because of your age. Instead, the employer will likely attempt to justify their adverse employment action by making vague statements about there being “more qualified candidates” or their concern about your ability to take on more job responsibilities. It’s best to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable and compassionate employment lawyer who can help you create a strong claim that links your age to the incident of discrimination you suffered.

Remedies Available to Victims of Age Discrimination in New York

As you discuss your age discrimination case with a trusted and experienced New York employment law attorney, you can explore the types of remedies available for taking legal action against your employer’s discriminatory practices. Damages vary according to state and federal anti-discrimination laws, so it’s best to consult with your attorney to obtain the most accurate assessment. Generally, the ADEA allows age discrimination victims to recover damages for lost earnings, including back pay, loss of fringe benefits, loss of future pay, and loss of retirement benefits. Pursuing an age discrimination claim under either New York state or city antidiscrimination laws may enable you to recover damages for emotional distress, meaning any mental and emotional issues (i.e., anxiety, depression, etc.) you suffered as a result of the employer’s discriminatory practices. Your employment lawyer will assess the specific details of your case to identify the most appropriate and strategic course of action that maximizes your chances of recovering the damage you’re owed.

Get Started With a Skilled and Caring New York Lawyer Today

Even if you are not certain that your employer has discriminated against you because of your age, it’s worth discussing your options with a dedicated employment law attorney as soon as possible. Many people simply have a feeling that their age caused them to lose out on a job opportunity or a promotion, and they may assume that pursuing an age discrimination claim will be a waste of their valuable time and resources. However, enlisting the support of a seasoned employment lawyer can give you the clarity and confidence you need to recover the damages owed to you. What’s more, you are likely protecting other workers from acts of discrimination when you take a stand against an unfair employer. No matter how your case unfolds, you can trust that your employment law attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and empower you to hold businesses accountable for their discriminatory actions.

If you believe you have suffered from employment-related age discrimination in New York, reach out to the dedicated and experienced legal team at Levy Ratner to discuss your legal rights and options. Call our office today at (212) 627-8100 to get started with a trusted and caring employment law attorney.