In the workplace, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between decisions that are made for business reasons, or for reasons that can be seen as discriminatory. This is even truer when the characteristic in question is something that may not be immediately visible, such as age. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against based on age, it is a good idea to make certain that you understand your options going forward. This is especially important if you are over the age of 40, because there are laws that protect your rights.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects the employment rights of workers over the age of 40, making it unlawful to discriminate in any part of the employment process solely on the basis of age. It only applies to private employers with at least 20 employees, but if your employer is covered, this means that they may not discriminate or take any other negative employment action based solely on your age.
While some states do have laws protecting the employment rights of workers under the age of 40, South Carolina is not currently one of them. Rightly or wrongly, it is perceived that younger workers have more options and more leverage to try and stand up for their own rights, as many employers do prioritize youth even though it may technically be unlawful to do so. The ADEA is intended to level the playing field, at least partially.
If You Suspect Discrimination
If you believe that you have experienced mistreatment based on your age, you can file a charge either with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There is a time frame in which you must file—usually 180 days from the alleged unlawful action—and once you have filed, the office will investigate the charge’s validity. They will investigate the charge itself, but also brainstorm how best to work out a solution to the issues.
The eventual outcome of your charge under the ADEA may be slightly different than it would be under another antidiscrimination law (such as Title VII of the CIvil Rights Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act). This is because the ADEA does not require that you be granted a “right-to-sue” letter. This means you may file a lawsuit in federal court as soon as 60 days after your charge has been lodged with the EEOC.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer
No worker should be discriminated against based on age. However, if you have experienced this type of treatment, you should be aware that you have options. Calling an experienced South Carolina employment discrimination lawyer at the firm of Hitchcock & Potts can help you decide how best to proceed with your case. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is happy to assist you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.