How do I know if I have a case for age discrimination?

I am 60 years old and have been an independent contract territory sales rep for a large public traded firm for 7 years. I have never had a “down year” in salesI received “Honorable Mention ” at last year’s national sales meeting for increasing sales. Then 4 months ago, I was informed by inside management, my territory was being merged with the one next to it,and being made a company/salary position and if I wanted to keep my job, I would need to apply for it.
I did. I interviewed 2 months ago and about 2 weeks later was notified that I did not get the position. I found out the person hired is approximately 35 years old and worked for the company in a different position who had been pursued by the same manager that interviewed me. Do I have a case?



Asked on September 30, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You may have a case the fact that you have performed well and that you lost the position to someone less than 40 are both factors in your favor. However, you write that he "had been pursued by the same manager that interviewed me." Did the manager work with that person before? If so this, that would count against you--it's not discrimination for a manager to prefer a person with he has previously worked. What position did that other person work in previously? If it was a larger position/terrigory and/or more similar to the one which you interviewed for than any positions you'd held, that would also weaken your claim, since having better or more applicable experience would tend to make him the better candidate. 
You write about your 7 years of experience, but how long did this person work for the company? If he had seniority over you, despite being younger, that would tend to make this not discrimination. Or you were an independent contractor--was he one, too, or was a salaried employee? If so, it's not discrimination to prefer the person who was already an emplooyee over one who was not.
There are a number of reasons why the choice of him over you might not be discriminatory. You essentially need to eliminate reasonable non-discrimination reasons as possible causes for him getting the job before really determining if you have a case.

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