Searching for a job, pursuing professional advancement, or seeking job security at any age is an intimidating endeavor. But with our society’s prejudices against aging, making your place in the working world can be even more daunting as you get older.
Can you sue for age discrimination in Florida if you have been mistreated in your workplace or denied a job for which you were qualified? Yes, you can. But there are several facts you have to prove before you can receive legal relief. And at Brenton Legal PA, our employment attorneys have the experience, skills, and tools to give you the best chance at a successful age discrimination claim. We are passionate about protecting the rights of employees throughout the State of Florida and can help you stand your ground against discriminatory employers.
Which Laws Protect Me?
If you want to sue an employer or prospective employer for age discrimination, you need to know what legal protections are available to you. You have rights against age discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Below, we summarize how these laws can help you.
Age Discrimination Prohibitions Under the ADEA
The ADEA protects employees who are 40 or older from unfavorable or unequal treatment that is motivated by their age. Employers subject to the ADEA cannot engage in age-based discrimination in any of the following scenarios:
- Job assignments,
- Promotions, and
- Other terms or conditions of employment.
If you find that you are constantly passed over for jobs, favorable work assignments, or promotions given to younger colleagues or candidates despite your qualifications, you might be the victim of unlawful discrimination.
Another form of illegal age discrimination is harassment. Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic, such as age. Harassment is unlawful when it involves offensive conduct that you have to endure as a condition of receiving employment benefits or when the conduct is so extreme or prevalent in your workplace that a reasonable person would call your workplace hostile. If someone at your job engages in verbal or non-verbal conduct that insults your age, you might have the right to initiate a harassment complaint.
The harassment protections you can receive under the ADEA are many, but they do not apply to every worker who is 40 or older. Only employers with 20 or more employees are subject to the ADEA’s prohibitions. Calculating how many employees your employer has is not always straightforward, so speak to one of our knowledgeable attorneys about whether the ADEA applies to any age-based mistreatment you have suffered in your workplace.
Age Discrimination Prohibitions Under the Florida Civil Rights Act
Section 760.10 of the Florida Civil Rights Act forbids the use of a job applicant’s or employee’s age to block them from employment, work benefits, or professional advancement. These prohibitions apply to the following actors in the labor market:
- Employment agencies,
- Labor organizations, and
- Joint labor-management committees.
Many employees have similar rights, and many employers have similar obligations under the ADEA and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Anyone who is having difficulties in their professional life and suspects their age is the culprit should speak to us immediately about their options for seeking legal recourse.
Do I Have a Claim for Age Discrimination in Florida?
Are you at least 40 years old? Have you noticed unequal treatment from your employer, including favoritism toward employees under 40 or younger than you? If you answered “Yes” to both of these questions, you might have an age discrimination complaint on your hands.
Examples of age discrimination can include the following:
- Promoting less qualified, younger employees over qualified employees who are 40 or older;
- Enforcing employment policies more frequently or more harshly against employees who are 40 or older;
- Firing a disproportionate number of employees who are 40 or older;
- Providing more job-related benefits to employees who are younger than 40;
- Excluding employees who are 40 or older from work opportunities, such as training programs and corporate events;
- Posting job notices or sending out job applications that state or imply that the employer is seeking candidates younger than 40;
- Firing, demoting, punishing, or ignoring an employee because they are 40 or older; or
- Harassing an employee because they are 40 or older.
You should also note that if two employees are over 40, an employer’s favoritism toward the younger of those two is still a violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
And what about when an employer asks you about your age? In the context of an interview, job application, or onboarding materials, this is likely not a violation of the law. However, an employer that constantly makes inquiries about your age might be exposing its potential to engage in illegal and biased behavior, and you should take note. Also, constant questions or comments about your age could rise to the level of unlawful harassment.
Taking Legal Action
Once you have established that you suffered age-based discrimination at work, there are several ways you can hold your employer accountable, including:
- Filing a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR),
- Filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and
- Filing a lawsuit in civil court.
And if the government or a court finds that your employer violated state or federal anti-discrimination laws, you can receive the following:
- Compensation for your emotional distress,
- Payment for your financial losses,
- Job restoration or promotion,
- Punitive damages, and
- Orders for policy changes at your workplace.
To have access to these remedies, you need to file an EEOC charge within 180 days or an FCHR complaint within 365 days. You should also speak to one of our skilled attorneys who can maximize your damages.
Brenton Legal Works to Protect the Florida Workforce
With your age comes experience and wisdom, and an employer should not use your age against you in a work setting. At Brenton Legal, our employment attorneys have decades of combined experience and can help make sure that any discriminatory employer you encounter pays for the harm its misdeeds have caused you. We are straightforward, compassionate, and unafraid to fight hard on your behalf. If you need a strong advocate, give us a call at 954-639-4644 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.