Age Discrimination

Our Boston age discrimination lawyers advise and represent clients who face age discrimination in their workplaces across Massachusetts in a variety of contexts. We advise clients who are dealing with ongoing age-related discrimination by their current employers and are in need of legal advice to protect their workplace rights. We also represent clients who have been laid off or terminated and are attempting to negotiate favorable severance terms, including healthcare, retirement, and pension benefits. If necessary, we are prepared to file age discrimination complaints on behalf of our clients with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and seek remedies in state or federal court.

Age discrimination has become an increasing problem as our population lives longer and stays in the workplace beyond traditional retirement age. Age discrimination is particularly prevalent in industries that place a premium on creativity and youth, including the technology, financial services, marketing, and entertainment sectors. Under federal and state law, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age in the terms and conditions of employment. Both federal law (the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)) and Massachusetts law prohibit employers from discriminating against workers age 40 and older. Many employees do not realize that they are considered an “older” worker at the age of 40; if you are 40 or older and are facing adverse employment actions from your employer it is worth considering whether your age plays any role in the employer’s decision.

Age discrimination can take various forms: age-based harassment creating a hostile environment for the employee, older employees being passed over for promotions or raises, and employees being laid off or fired because of their age and replaced with younger hires. Age requirements or mandatory retirement ages are also, in most places of employment, an impermissible form of age discrimination. Age can only be considered in an employment decision if the employer has a bonafide business reason for the age requirement, which is a fact-intensive inquiry and generally has only been permissible in industries with strenuous labor requirements (i.e., construction) or high-risk job functions (i.e., airline pilots). Our lawyers have substantial experience evaluating age discrimination claims, advising clients on ongoing hostile work environments, negotiating favorable severance agreements, and litigating claims at the MCAD and EEOC and in state or federal court when necessary. Our Boston age discrimination lawyers recognize that age discrimination is often subtle and does not necessarily include direct evidence of discriminatory remarks or conduct. Employers act unlawfully where they pass over qualified older employers for promotion or lay them off simply based on the assumption that they are nearing retirement age. We also recognize that age discrimination may just be one aspect of a constellation of claims against an employer. For example, because women often face discrimination as they get older, particularly in industries such as media and entertainment, but in other industries as well, age claims often go hand-in-hand with gender discrimination claims. Likewise, we also see age discrimination claims arising in the context of disability and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims because workers are often faced with medical or family caregiving responsibilities as they get older.

When a person age 40 or older is eligible for an early retirement plan, or a severance package, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires that the employer provide complete and accurate information about the benefits provided. It allows employees to waive their rights to sue under the ADEA, but only when certain conditions are met. These conditions include: that the waiver be written in clear and unambiguous language, that the worker receive something more in exchange for the waiver than what he or she is entitled to by right at the company, that the company give the worker at least 21 days to consider the offer, and that the employee have the right to revoke the waiver for seven days after signing it. We routinely counsel employees facing group or individual layoffs or contemplating retirement, and we assist them in negotiating favorable severance packages in exchange for waiving their right to bring age discrimination claims.

If you think you are being discriminated against in your workplace because of your age, please call our Boston age discrimination lawyers at (617) 742-6020.

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