Because senior workers tend to make the most money, it's not unusual to find companies letting them go and replacing them with younger people who do the exact same jobs for less cash. This, and other forms of age discrimination, is becoming more and more prevalent as Baby Boomers reach the latter part of middle age. However, proving you were unfairly treated because of your age can be challenging to do. Here are two things you can do to show your employer discriminated against you.
Very few employers are unintelligent enough to blatantly say and do things that make it obvious older employees are being discriminated against due to their age. Instead, many employ subtler tactics, one of which is to make the work environment so horrible the employees quit to get away from the toxicity.
For instance, a supervisor may assign an older employee to the most unpleasant duties or consistently pass the person over and give plumb assignments to younger workers. Another tactic is to discipline the employee for his or her actions but ignore the same behavior in other (younger) workers.
These sorts of things may be accompanied by a sudden drop in performance review ratings, wage stagnation (e.g. you don't get any more raises for an unfathomable reason), or being left out of the loop about advancement opportunities at the company.
This type of evidence is typically circumstantial. Specific incidents may not be compelling on their own but they may indicate a pattern of behavior when bundled together. This is why you should write down everything that happens that appears to be the result of your age as well as share notes with other older workers who may also be affected.
Show Disparate Impact
Some companies institute rules or policies that appear neutral on the surface but disproportionately impact one group more than others. This is called disparate impact, and an employer can be held liable for discrimination even if that wasn't the intended goal of the rule.
For instance, the company develops a rule that employees must complete a certain amount of work per day. The pace a person has to work may be okay for younger people but older people may struggle to keep up. This leads to older workers experiencing higher rates of disciplinary action and poorer performance reviews which, in turn, results in senior workers being fired more often than younger ones.
Proving disparate impact may require acquiring company records to show how the rule has impacted its workforce or talking to people who were let go, and the negative impact must be substantial and not easily explained away by other reasons.
For more information about this issues or help with your age discrimination case, contact a civil rights attorney.