Age Discrimination Attorney in Akron, Ohio
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which fields complaints from employees who feel they have been discriminated against by their employer, received 67,488 charges of workplace discrimination in the 2020 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2020. Of those, 14,183 (21 percent) of the charges were based on age discrimination.
That figure may just be the tip of the iceberg, however, as many employees may choose to stay silent rather than face retaliation from their employer or may simply not know their rights or how to exercise law.
Both federal and Ohio state laws prohibit discrimination based on age (40 years old and above). While the discrimination may come in the form of a discharge, it can also be experienced while still on the job, such as being passed over for a promotion in favor of a younger, cheaper worker or seeing all the plum assignments go to younger staff.
If you feel you have been discriminated against at work because of your age and you’re located in or around Akron, Ohio, or nearby in Hudson, Canton, Cleveland, or Lorain, contact the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III immediately. Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III will investigate your situation and help you exercise your rights under the law.
Age Discrimination Laws
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are 40 years of age or older and work for a private employer with 20 or more employees, state or local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, or the federal government.
Ohio Revised Code Section 4112.14 (Age Discrimination) states: “No employer shall discriminate in any job opening against any applicant or discharge without just cause any employee aged forty or older who is physically able to perform the duties and otherwise meets the established requirements of the job and laws pertaining to the relationship between employer and employee.”
Notice that Ohio law refers only to hiring and firing. In other situations, the ADEA comes into the picture as the prevailing statute.
Prohibited Discriminatory Actions
The ADEA prohibits discrimination against an employee aged 40 or older with respect to any term or condition of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoffs, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.
The ADEA also prohibits specifying an age limit in an advertisement or job notice or setting an age ceiling on apprenticeship programs.
Since benefits for older workers, such as health insurance, cost more, employers may be incentivized to avoid hiring older workers. To ensure older workers get considered for employment and receive the benefits they deserve, Congress passed the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) in 1990.
The OWBPA, however, does allow employers to reduce certain benefits based on age so long as the cost is the same as providing similar benefits to younger workers.
Harassment and Retaliation
In addition to discrimination, the ADEA also prohibits harassment of older workers. Harassment can include slurs, derogatory references, excluding an older individual from group activities, or shunning an older worker in the work environment.
It is also unlawful to retaliate against a worker of any age for opposing discriminatory practices against older workers and against older workers for filing a charge of age discrimination or for participating or testifying in any age discrimination investigation, proceeding, or legal action.
The ADEA does allow for an older worker or group of workers to waive their rights or claims in certain circumstances, but the law puts strict requirements on waivers. The waivers must be offered in exchange for “valuable consideration in addition to anything of value to which the individual already is entitled.”
The waiver must be spelled out in clear-language writing, and the employee must be given at least 21 days to consider it and consult with an attorney. For a group, the required think-about-it time is at least 45 days.
Filing a Claim
If you’ve been discriminated against as an older worker, you can file a charge under the ADEA with the EEOC. The EEOC can choose to investigate and seek resolution for your situation, or it can issue you a “right to sue” letter, enabling you to pursue legal action on your own. The caveat is that you cannot initiate legal action until receiving notice of your right to sue.
In Ohio, the statute states that “a person aged forty or older who is discriminated against in any job opening or discharged without just cause by an employer in violation … of this section may institute a civil action against the employer in a court of competent jurisdiction.” Thus, you can sue immediately in Ohio if you can prove you were not hired because of age discrimination or that you were terminated because of your age. Other forms of discrimination fall under the ADEA and EEOC as well.
Age Discrimination Attorney in Akron, Ohio
Protect your rights against acts of age discrimination. The steps you take to fight age prejudice in the workplace help not only you but also your co-workers and other professionals. If you’ve been discharged or otherwise discriminated or retaliated against at work because of your age, contact the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III immediately. Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III proudly serves clients in and around Akron, Ohio, including the nearby areas of Hudson, Canton, Cleveland, and Lorain.