Was my wife descriminated against because of her wage and age?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Was my wife descriminated against because of her wage and age?

My wife lost her job. Her place of employment takes care of people with disability’s. She was told she was being let go because they were eliminating her position as a home manger from 3 to 2 home manger positions. She was let go because she was lowest on the seniority list. The problem is they really didn’t eliminate her job. They gave 1/2 her work load 10 clients to a new person that had only been there a few months and does not know how to do the job my wife does. The other 10 clients were split up between the 2 remaining home managers. I think she was eliminated to save money for the company. Her work load is still there and still divided up between 3 people. One of which is the person with very little time with the company and earns much less than my wife did. Does this sound like a case of age/wage discrimination?

Asked on November 30, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First, there is no such thing as "wage discrimination" per se: unless the company's actions are also age discrimation (see below), it can eliminate a higher-paid person to save money.
Second, age discrimination only applies when someone age 40 or over is discriminated against due to age. If your wife is less than 40, then regardless of the motive, it is not age discrimination.
Third, what you write suggests that they did make a legitimate cost-saving or restructuring move: they eliminated the full-time person with the least seniority and divided up her work, so that half the work goes to other existing managers and the remaining one half could be handled by a more junior person who earns less. This is not firing an older (and again, would have to be over 40) employee and giving her job as is to a younger person; this is restructuring the work so as to save cost while eliminating the logical person: the one with the least seniority. That would be legal: the prohibition on age discrimination does not prevent the company from terminating an older employee for legitimate, valid business reasons. What you describe appears to be legal.

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