6 Steps to Prove Age Discrimination at Work


With age often comes wisdom, but unfortunately for some employees, employers may not see it that way. If you’re over 45 years old, you are legally protected from age discrimination in your workplace. Enforcing those laws, however, can be a difficult feat. If you’ve been demoted, fired, passed over for a promotion or new job, or otherwise penalized for your age, you can file an age discrimination claim. First, you’ll have to prove it, though. Here are six different ways to document and prove age discrimination in your workplace.

1. Direct Evidence

This is by far the easiest way to prove age discrimination. If your employer, supervisor, or HR representative has made a comment or joke about your age, it’s direct evidence of age discrimination. Even playful teasing can be the basis for a claim, so long as the comments are unwelcome. When these comments are made, write down the comment, date, time, and witness names. If someone who made a comment is involved in a discriminatory action against you, such as a demotion, you will be able to use your notes as evidence of discrimination.

2. Harassment

Are you treated differently than your younger colleagues? Do you constantly hear comments, jokes, or conversations about your age? Do you feel left out, isolated, or pushed to retire? These actions are considered harassment, and are illegal. Unless your position is one of a very limited number that allows forced retirement ages or other restrictions, your employer cannot harass you into quitting or retiring. Always document harassment, and look for patterns that can show that your employer engages in ongoing harassment.

3. Discipline

If you’ve kept your nose clean the length of your career, and now find yourself being written up for the smallest things, it may be considered discrimination. Your case will be even stronger if you’re able to demonstrate that younger employees are not being penalized for the same mistakes or decisions.

4. Exclusion

If you’re being left behind while your younger colleagues are included, it’s a sign of age discrimination. Take notes if you find out that you’re not being included in lunches, events, trainings, or meetings that pertain to your job. Your employer may be attempting to leave you behind and out of the loop when it comes to new methods, technologies, client accounts, and more.

5. Favoritism

Many workplaces operate based on seniority, as well as merit. If you notice that your younger colleagues are always given the best assignments, clients, leads, office space, and other benefits—even if you have more experience and seniority—it may be interpreted as a sign of age discrimination. Document these instances and see if there is a specific manager or team the regularly penalizes you by giving you the worse assignments.

6. Promotions and Hiring

When you work hard, you expect to be rewarded with promotions or raises that reflect the amount of dedication and value you offer to your company. If you find yourself passed over for promotions or raises in favor of your younger colleagues, or notice that it’s a consistent pattern with your company, it can be a legal issue. This also goes for new hires or applying for new positions. Companies should thoroughly evaluate all candidates and choose the best qualified, even if they are older. If you are passed over for a job in favor of a less qualified employee, you may be the victim of age discrimination. It is frequently extremely difficult to prevail in an age discrimination case based on hiring, however.

Even if you are not personally the victim of age discrimination, you still can fight back. Noticing patterns in the way your company operates can be helpful to protect older employees at the company and ensure that all employees enjoy equal protection at work. Documentation is critical when it comes to any discrimination claim, including age-related discrimination cases.

At Donati Law, PLLC, our experienced legal team is dedicated to fighting for the rights of employees. If you’ve been the victim of age discrimination or have seen it occur in your workplace, our Memphis employment law attorneys are here to help! Schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your case and discover your legal options today.

Contact our offices online, or call (901) 209-5500 to get started with your age discrimination case now.

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