Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination Lawyer serving Rockland County, NY & Bergen County, NJ

If you work or live in Rockland County, NY, or in Bergen County, NJ and are in need of an age discrimination lawyer, The Zdanis Law Firm can help. Lead attorney, Karen Zdanis, has both an MBA and her law degree. She began her career consulting with Fortune-500 corporations and has been practicing law since 2001. This real world understating of business and how corporations operate give her and understanding of the issues of age discrimination that cannot just be learned in law school. The firm is small enough to give you the attention you want but talented and experienced enough to deliver the results you need.

In General, What is The Law Against Age Discrimination and Harassment?

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Age discrimination can also happen in the form of harassment. It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age, for example, making offensive remarks about an employee’s age.

Although the law doesn’t protect against simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in a termination or demotion.

What Constitutes an Age Discrimination Claim?
An age discrimination claim is established by proving four elements, through direct or circumstantial evidence. The four elements are:

  1. The employee terminated was within the protected age group,
  2. The employee was qualified for the position,
  3. The employee was discharged, and
  4. The discharge occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.

Burger v. New York Inst. of Technology, 94 F.3d 830, 833 (2d Cir. 1996).

Is Reverse Age Discrimination Illegal?

It depends on what state an employee works in. Under federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only prohibits age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40. .However, some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination.
However, our local laws in New Jersey and New York allow for reverse age discrimination claims.

The New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful to discriminate against any individuals over the age of 18 because of their age:

“It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice . . . [f]or an employer . . . to refuse to hire or employ or license or to bar or to terminate from employment an individual eighteen years of age or older, or to discriminate against such individual in promotion, compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age. N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 (3-a)

In New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) protects employees from being treated unfairly in the workplace simply because of age and applies to individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 70. There are exceptions for certain career fields such as law enforcement officers and other jobs that involve public safety. Some individuals have used the LAD’s age discrimination provision to bring reverse age discrimination claims, stating that they were treated unfairly due to their status as a younger worker. In at least one of these cases, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the NJLAD’s age discrimination provision was broad enough to include claims that an employee was treated unfairly due to his or her youth. See, Bergen Commercial Bank v. Sisler, 157 N.J. 188 (1999)

Does it Matter if the Person Discriminating is Over 40?

Under federal law (the ADEA), it is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older.
New York and New Jersey both have laws (see above) that would protect against age discrimination for employees over 40 years of age who are disfavored because they are younger than their older counterparts.

Are Certain Employers Excluded?

The size of the employer often dictates whether or not an employee may sue for on age discrimination claim. Under federal law, the ADEA, an employer must employ 20 or more workers to be subject to this law. If a company employs fewer workers than this, they cannot be sued under the ADEA.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) applies to employers who do business in New Jersey and employ more than 50 employees worldwide.

The New York Human Rights Law applies to employees in New York who work(ed) for employers that employ at least four (4) employees.

Can an employer ask how old I am in an interview?

There is no law that states an employer may not ask. However, it could be used as evidence that the employer is discriminating against prospective older employees.

What Does an Employee Need to Prove in an Age Discrimination Case?

The law provides that an employee needs to prove the circumstances of the adverse employment action, or termination, give rise to an inference of discrimination. An inference of discrimination may be proven by discriminatory words spoken in the workplace, or by actions taken such as these:

  •  Pressuring an older employee to retire by repeatedly asking when he or she plans to do so or by threatening to fire the employee if he or she does not retire.
  • Denying benefits to older employees and granting it to younger employees
  • Making comments about wanting “new and fresh faces” or “youthful energy” in the office
  • Refusing to hire an otherwise qualified employee based on his or her age
  •  The boss consistently socializes only with the younger workers and displays a preference against older employees
  • Not permitting an older employee to learn new skills or attend training

These are just examples, and employees should consult with an attorney who regularly practices employment litigation to determine whether he or she has a case.

Our Distinctive Approach to Age Discrimination Cases:

Employment law has many facets that are different from issues faced in general litigation. Not only because there are often personal and emotional issues at play, but because the laws pertaining to employment law are complex. In some cases, an employee needs to file with a government administrative agency before going to court, or in other cases file a notice of claim within a short amount of time after being terminated.

In my opinion, which incorporates more than fifteen years of successfully representing employer and employees as clients, employment law cases are best suited for attorneys equipped with specific knowledge and experience because they involve different rules and obligations. I make sure my clients are always as educated as possible about these choices because an informed choice is important from start to finish. My approach is to begin a case with as much information as possible so that I fully understand the client’s perspective. This enables me to formulate a strategy that is best suited for the case.

How is the Zdanis Law Firm Different?

Because each case is unique, I do not believe there is a scripted answer to apply to employment cases. I pay careful attention, especially at the beginning of a case to make sure the appropriate steps are followed. Someone who has been discriminated against often has options as far as what legal course of action to take. An employee who has been discriminated against should consider all options available to him or her to be able to make the best choice for his or her individual situation.

My firm is small. However, I believe the personal attention I am able to provide yields insurmountable benefits. I only take on cases that I believe have merit. If I decide to take a case, I set a plan from the beginning, tailored to each specific case’s needs. That is why I believe my approach to handling age discrimination cases is effective. Zdanis Law firm – small enough to give you the attention you want but talented and experienced enough to deliver the results you need.

What do I do next if I think I have an Age Discrimination Claim in Rockland or Bergen Counties?
If you have read the above information on age discrimination and think you are a victim, the first step to deciding whether or not you should pursue a legal action is to understand your rights. I am available for a brief telephone call to determine if your situation rises to the level of a valid legal claim and to discern if it merits an in-person consultation. Good legal counsel is an important component to protecting your rights. When you need an age discrimination Lawyer call The Zdanis Law Firm – Rockland County, NY: 845-356-0855, Bergen County, NJ: 201-695-8005.