What can I do if I feel that I was discriminated at my last job due to my age?

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What can I do if I feel that I was discriminated at my last job due to my age?

I was laid off at my job and it was given to a girl who was hired after me. My boss had made a comment about my age once. And this woman is much younger than me. I was quite capable of performing my duties as they laid me off and didnt fire me but never called me back

Asked on December 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First, be aware that only employees age 40 and over are protected from age discrimination. So if you are over 40 and were replaced by an under 40, you may have a claim; but if you are under 40, then being replaced by somone younger is not illegal (for example, if you are 38 and were replaced by a 23-year-old, that is legal). Also if you and your replacement are both over 40, even if she is younger than you (e.g. say you are 53, and she is 42) that is unlikely to be considered illegal discrimination, since you are both in the protected category. 
Assuming you are over 40 and she is under 40, and there was an age-based comment, then based on what you have written, you have made a "prima facie" (think: "on its face") case, since you could do the job, don't mention performance problems, and were replaced by a younger person. So it is worth it to contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency to file a complaint. That said, it may be that the employer can refute the charge by proving a non-discriminatory reason (e.g. she has a degree, credential, training, or experience you lack), but it is definitely worth contacting the agency and discussing the matter, since if they can't prove some non-discriminatory reason, you may be entitled to compensation.


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