Age Discrimination and Age Harassment

Labor & Employment Law

Age Discrimination in Florida

What is age discrimination?

In the workplace, ageism or age discrimination is when an employer treats an employee, or group of employees, less favorably in the terms and conditions of employment based upon their age.  Generally, if an employer doesn’t hire you or demotes, terminates, passes you over for a promotion, pays workers differently based on age,  or denies any other benefit because of your age, whether too young or too old, you have been subject to age discrimination by your employer.

Age discrimination is also when an employer has policies or practices that appear neutral on their face but have a disproportionate impact on older workers or younger workers. 

What laws protect me if I am subject to age discrimination?
  • Federal Law: If you work for an employer that employs 20 or more employees and are treated less favorably because you are 40 years old and above, you are protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975 (ADEA).   To pursue this federal claim, you must first file your claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days of when you knew or should have known of the discrimination.
  • Florida State Law:  If you work for an employer that employs 15 or more employees and are treated less favorably because you are any age (too young or too old), you are protected under Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA).  To pursue this state claim, you must first file your claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations within 365 days of when you knew or should have known of the discrimination.
  • Local Ordinances:  Many county and cities have ordinances that prohibit age discrimination.  These laws may apply to smaller employers and have shorter statute of limitations to file claims with the appropriate administrative agencies.
Are there defenses to age discrimination?        
  • Age is a bona fide occupation qualification;
  • Business necessity;
  • Statutory requirements;
  • Age was not the “but for” reason for the adverse action, there was some other reason that led to the adverse action; and
  • Compliance with a bona fide seniority system, benefit plan or retirement plan;
Do I have an age discrimination claim if I am harassed based on my age by a co-worker, supervisor, customer or client?

Yes, if the harassment is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment action.  Generally isolated comments are not actionable unless they are severe.  You may be required to report the harassment to your employer if your employer has a policy on harassment and a harassment complaint procedure in place.  Failure to do so could impact your ability to pursue the claim.

Can my employer force me to retire because of my age?

No. However, your employer can offer early voluntary retirement incentive packages. Also, certain exceptions to this rule apply, such as for firefighters and law enforcement officers who can be forced to retire if the state or local government implements a mandatory retirement age.

Can my employer reduce or deny benefits based on my age?

No. Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), your employer cannot reduce or deny previously held benefits because of your age. However, your employer may sometimes be able to reduce your benefits if the reduction will make your benefits equal to the cost of benefits for younger employees.

Can my employer retaliate against me for complaining about age discrimination?

No.  If you are covered by the laws prohibiting age discrimination, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against or harass you because you complained about age discrimination in the workplace. 

What remedies are available if I prove my age case in Court?

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you may be entitled to receive:

  • An injunction against your employer;
  • Lost wages, including value of lost benefits;
  • Front pay, including value of lost benefits;
  • Reinstatement;
  • Liquidated damages in the same amount as your lost wages;
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs; and
  • Pre-judgment interest.

Under the Florida Civil Rights Act, you may be entitled to receive:

  • An injunction against your employer;
  • Back Pay, including value of lost benefits;
  • Front pay, including value of lost benefits;
  • Reinstatement;
  • Unlimited emotional distress damages;
  • Attorney’ fees and costs;
  • Prejudgment interest; and
  • Punitive damages capped at $100,000.
Does your law firm have any experience with age discrimination cases?

Sass Law Firm represents employees in age discrimination cases in both federal and state courts. If you feel you have suffered from age discrimination, harassment or related retaliation, please contact an experienced attorney like those at the Sass Law Firm to learn more about your rights and potential remedies as soon as possible as strict deadlines apply.

Picture of Employee Rights Attorney Yvette Everhart announcing her interview with ABC Action News aired on 10.25.21 about age discrimination

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