If I’m Over 40, Does an Employer Need a Special Reason to Fire Me?

One aspect of age discrimination that sometimes is misunderstood concerns the protections afforded to older workers (meaning those age 40 and above).  New York State, New York City law and federal law prohibit firing an older worker based solely upon their age.

These laws do not, however, prohibit older workers from being fired. In fact, older workers may be fired for any reason (or no reason at all) in most circumstances (absent a collective bargaining or other agreement in place).  However, while employers always claim they have a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for firing older workers, it is still critical for employees to consult with an employment lawyer to determine of the reason for the termination is actually an illegal act based upon age. The fact that an employer couches its action based on performance or some act that superficially does not involve age does not mean that it is not being done for an illegal reason based on age. While New York State, New York City and federal law protect employees for claims of age discrimination if they are over 40 years of age, New York State and New York City law are even more expansive and can protect employees against age discrimination even if they are under 40 years of age. These variations in the coverage of the different law highlight why it is critical that persons subjected to discrimination consult with an experienced practitioner in this area, such as our firm.

Do I Have the Right to Pursue Claims for Age Discrimination?

Under New York State, New York City and Federal law, if you wish to pursue a claim of age discrimination, there are various potential administrative or court filings that can be pursued under these various statutes. Which avenue to pursue itself can involve a complicated analysis based on the facts in a particular case and the needs of the client. It is therefore critical that individuals consult with an experienced employment lawyer prior to any such filing as such an action can have an impact on such claims.

What Must Be Proven in an Age Discrimination Case?

What the age discrimination laws do is to protect older (and as discussed above sometimes younger) workers from being fired because of their age.  It is vitally important that a person who believes they have been subjected to such discrimination consult with lawyers, such as our firm, to determine whether the individual facts in their case can support such claims of age discrimination. This is not always easily apparent and by consulting with a firm such as ours we can explore the individual and unique circumstances of your case to determine if such discrimination potentially exists and any challenges associated with pursuing this kind of claims.

What Types of Facts May Be Considered?

The facts making up an age discrimination claim are completely dependent on the individual circumstances in a particular case. Key facts and circumstances can include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:

  • Did a supervisor or manager make comments about the age of the worker?  In some situations, a supervisor or a manager will make a comment such as saying an employee should retire, seems to be slowing down, or explicitly talks about finding “new blood” or younger workers to fill the position. There are many other comments that could be made that implicate age issues. Again, this is why it is extremely important to consult with lawyers, such as a firm to explore these comments. 
  • Did the supervisor or managers talk to other managers or supervisors (either directly or through email) suggesting that a worker be fired and replaced with a younger worker? These illegal considerations may not always be apparent to an employee who has been subjected to age discrimination, but can come out in the course of a proceeding that has been filed.
  • Was the terminated worker in fact replaced with a younger worker? The age of the person replacing an older worker who has been fired can be yet another factor in determining whether the termination action has been illegally motivated by considerations of age.

Learn About Your Rights – Call Our Firm for a Free Consultation

In order to preserve your rights in a potential discrimination claim, please call our firm as soon as possible. There are important for administrative and court deadlines that must be met  or a person’s claim and potential right to pursue such claims may be lost.

Our firm offers a free consultation so that workers may learn about their rights in this complicated and changing area of law and the potential opportunity to seek compensation if their rights have been violated. Our firm often accepts discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. In such instances no fees are owed for our services unless we are successful in obtaining compensation.