New Jersey Age Discrimination Lawyers
Age Discrimination is Increasing. Age discrimination in employment is one of the cruelest forms of discrimination, and regrettably, it is on the increase. There are still more than 40 million Baby Boomers (now aged between 50 and 70) in the workforce and the economic pressure on them is enormous. Many are paying exorbitant college tuition or supporting multiple adult children themselves unable to find work. Some are required to work longer than they anticipated to replenish hard earned retirement savings lost during the Great Recession. Others merely prefer to remain occupied and active further into their lengthening life spans. However, as employers come under increasing pressure to cut costs, older workers disproportionately find themselves targeted by employers euphemistically citing a need for “new blood” with “more energy” or “fresh ideas.” Furthermore, illegal terminations hit older workers harder because they have a tougher time finding replacement employment.
Age Discrimination Law in New Jersey. Two laws protect older workers from workplace discrimination in New Jersey, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). Both laws prohibit age-based discrimination in the terms or conditions of employment - meaning that employees cannot be denied jobs or promotions, suspended, demoted or fired because of their age. However, the LAD offers the better protection, having broader coverage and providing for more comprehensive remedies and damages.
While the ADEA only applies to employers with 20 or more employees, the LAD applies no matter what the employer’s size. The ADEA only covers workers 40 and over, whereas the LAD applies to workers of any age, and can even apply to reverse discrimination against younger employees. Moreover, before filing a lawsuit under the ADEA, an employee must first “exhaust his administrative remedies” by first filing a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the discrimination, and receiving a “right to sue letter.” Claimants under the LADcan go right to court. Finally, remedies under the ADEA are limited to back pay (which may be doubled in cases where a willful violation is proved), reinstatement or front pay, and attorney’s fees. Under the LAD, plaintiffs may also be awarded compensatory damages for emotional distress, and in rare cases, punitive damages.
Proving an Age Discrimination Case Under The LAD. The LAD covers a failure to hire or promote and adverse employment actions such as terminations, demotions or suspensions. The key, though, is proving that the employer’s actions were motivated by age discrimination. This is not always easy. Any employer with even a modicum of sophistication will be aware that age discrimination is illegal, and most will lie about the true motivations. Thus, the LAD allows plaintiffs to prove their employers’ discriminatory motive through circumstantial evidence using the three-stage McDonnell Douglas proof model.
This all sounds complicated, and quite frankly it is. To stand the best chance of proving an age discrimination claim, you need a lawyer with experience in employment law to understand and analyze the legal issues at stake, and enough skill and determination at trial to prove the employer is lying.
How We Can Help. If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, the trial team at Lawrence & Gerges can help. We have successfully brought age discrimination claims for clients of all types of backgrounds and have a proven track record of success. We offer free consultations in our Springfield, New Jersey Offices where we would be happy to explore your options with you. And as always, if we believe you have a strong enough case, we will represent you on a contingent fee retainer meaning we will not ask you for money up front, and will only get paid if and when we get money for you. (See Silvia’s blog, 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Pay a Lawyer in an Employment Case.)