Does the Age Discrimination Act apply to me?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Does the Age Discrimination Act apply to me?

I have been with the Davis School District for 17 years. The last 10 as an assistant principal on the elementary level. I have applied several times for a principal position or to move to secondary schools junior high or high school but though I’ve been in the pool, I’ve never been chosen. I’ve never had anything but excellent reviews of my work performance, including from parents, faculty, students and the community. This year I was put back into the classroom to teach 6th grade. It is certainly not what I want to do. I love the kids, but it has been a huge learning curve and the stress has caused health problems. Also, it means a huge pay cut. No one will tell me the reason for this action except that

Asked on September 14, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF the reason for the demotion and salary cut is your age, then you have a claim, since an employer may not discriminate against an employee who is over 40 due to his/her age. If your age is not the cause, there is no claim. Nothing else--e.g.the difference between elementary and secondary assistant principals (since the  law does not require employers to treat/pay/etc. similar positions the same--matters.
That you were evidently almost 40 when you started working here--i.e. already almost in the protected category--and that you apparently have good reviews, etc. will help you; they suggest the reason for your treatment is age-related. They do not 100% prove it: it is possible that the employer can show there is some other, non-age reason for the treatment, such as other applicants for jobs you wanted having better credentials, and if there is a non-age reason, there is no wrongdoing and no liability. But still, you have presented enough of a case to make it worthwhile to discuss the matter an employment law attorney in more detail or to contact the EEC about possibly filing a complaint.
Other factors or facts to look at, that could help or hurt you: are the principals and assistant principals mostly younger than you? That would support your claim, whereas if they are more or less your age or older, that undercuts it. What about other employees approximately your age--have they suffered other negative treatment? If so, that shows a pattern of age discrimination, but if other older employees are treated fine, that suggests the issue is not age based. Note that it is legal to treat you worse due a personal dislike by some superior--the only thing barred is age discrimation, so you do want to look for other evidence showng a pattern of negative treatment based on age.

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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