Employment discrimination is sadly too common in U.S. workplaces, with several different axes being used to mistreat people. One of the less-visible—but very real—reasons that some employers use to discriminate is age. Older workers are sometimes treated with less respect than younger ones, with benefits and opportunities being given only to those under a certain age. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against at work due to your age, it may be a good idea to consult an experienced attorney to determine how best to proceed.
Not All Outcomes Are Discriminatory
Before exploring the legal possibilities for perceived discrimination, it is important to understand that there is a difference between favoring a younger worker over an older one—which is generally legal—and outright discriminating against the older worker. If an older person has more experience in a certain task, for example, assigning that task to the older worker is a non-discriminatory, reasonable action for a business to take. If your employer’s actions are neither reasonable nor non-discriminatory, then you may have a case.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) bars an employer from discriminatory treatment at any point, or in any aspect, of the employment process—that is, from hiring to firing. It also outlaws harassment on the basis of age. Simple teasing or joking is not considered harassing, but if the teasing escalates or happens so often that it creates a hostile work environment, it becomes harassment. A hostile work environment is one in which a worker is discriminated against due to a protected characteristic by a boss or coworker, and the treatment is so bad that the worker cannot do their job.
Know Your Options
If your situation has all the hallmarks of age discrimination, you can begin the process of seeking justice by filing an official charge, either with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may do so within 180 days at the Human Affairs Commission, or within 300 days if you prefer to file with the EEOC.
Once it has been determined that you have a viable claim of discrimination, then it must be processed, which can sometimes yield a solution to the issue at hand. Sometimes it will end in you being granted something called a Notice of Right to Sue. Once you have this, you may file suit in South Carolina’s District Court.
Filing suit can be extremely intimidating, but having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can be a great help. For example, an average person may not be aware that under South Carolina law, policies that are neutral at first glance can still be discriminatory, if the outcome of applying the policy is discrimination and the discrimination has no basis other than age. If you experience unequal treatment for a reason the court sees as valid, you have fewer options to pursue compensation.
Contact A Charleston Employment Discrimination Attorney
Discrimination based on age is both illegal and inefficient—despite stereotypes, older workers can still play a huge role in the betterment of their workplace. If you suspect you have been discriminated against based on your age, a South Carolina employment discrimination lawyer can be helpful. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is experienced in these types of matters—let the firm of Hitchcock & Potts handle your case. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.