Age Discrimination?

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Age Discrimination?

The company just had a ‘workforce reduction. There were five of us released. The average age of the five is 58 years of age. Seems a little odd to me. It is a well mixed as far as ages. Age Discrimination?

Asked on November 14, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Maybe. If  only older (over 40) employees, that can create a "prima facie" (think: "on its face") case of discrimination. However, the company can rebut that by showing non-discriminatory reasons: for example, if they were eliminating a particular department or function (possibly one being made obsolete by changes in the market or technology) and it happens all those employees are older (this happened in a publishing company I was associated with--artists who did manual/physical layout were let go in favor of computer-based production personnel, and the manual artists were older); or shutting down a particular office or location, which happens to have older employees; or they can show that the employees terminated had demonstrable, documented performance issues; etc. Or it can be rebutted if the company is overwhelmingly older, so statistically, it is likely that only older employees would be laid off. But if the company can't provide a valid rebuttal, then laying off only older employees may well be illegal age discrimination. You and your colleagues should speak with the federal EEOC about the situation and to look into filing a complaint.


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