Do I have an age discrimination issue?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have an age discrimination issue?

I feel that I have been forced to take a demotion even after doing everything
that was required during a Performance improvement Plan. I documented all the
work I did to meet the requirements and supposedly there was a customer complaint
and I was expected to have no complaints. I am 64 years old and have been with
my employer for 18 years. I have a new superior and he expects perfection, yet
since someone else is doing my old job I have seen more mistakes than ever.

Asked on June 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you are correct and you met all requirements of the performance improvement plan and if you have been replaced by someone under 40 who is not performing to your standard, then you may have suffered illegal age-related employment discrimation: the law prohibits terminating an employee or otherwise treating him/her worse (e.g. demotion) than others because he/she is over 40.
However, your question does raise concerns. First, if you were on an improvement plan, that probably means there were some performance or customer interaction issues. Second, there was apparently a customer complaint. Being over 40 doesn't mean that you can't be disciplined in some ways--just that you can't be demoted or fired because you are over 40. You can be demoted or terminated for other reasons, and those include customer complaints. So if there were customer complaints, especially while you were on an improvement plan, that could justify demotion. 
A good way to proceed is to speak to the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency and tell them what has happened. These agencies investigate employment complaints they deem credible. If they feel there is something to your complaint, they may look into it for you. If they do but after investigation find that there's not sufficient evidence of discrimination, that suggests that the demotion may be proper.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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