What Texas Employers & Employees Must Know About Age Discrimination
Whether you’re a Texas employee who is facing age discrimination, or an employer being accused of age discrimination, you ought to know that these claims can be valid in Texas.
There are a number of ways in which age discrimination can occur, including employee termination, promotions, and benefits. Situations in which workers are discriminated against on the basis of age are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which is enforced by the Employment Opportunity Commission. Although illegal, age discrimination is very common in Texas.
Additionally, employer retaliation against individuals who complain about age discrimination in the workplace is very common.
Details about the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
A federal law passed in 1976, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits several things including:
- Apprentice programs that discriminate based on age.
- Discrimination concerning benefits for workers of different ages.
- Workers that are replaced by younger workers.
- Individuals that are harassed by their employer or co-workers on the basis of age.
- Layoffs that mostly affect older workers.
- Asking job applicants to reveal their age during the hiring.
- Using job listings that specify candidates must be a certain age.
In many cases, the basis for this discriminatory behavior is because some employers view older employees as slow and forgetful while also downplaying the significant value and work experience of these individuals.
Employees must know that the Employment Act only applies if an individual is at least forty years old and works for a company that has at least a minimum of twenty employees. Unfortunately, employers who employ less than twenty employees are restricted from discriminating against employees on the basis of age.
The individual who is performing the harassment can be of any age and might even be another employee that the individual works with including a co-worker or supervisor.
Unlike other laws that prohibits discrimination in the state of Texas, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not include “reverse” discrimination, which occurs when employers discriminate against younger employees.
Age Discrimination and the Texas Labor Code
In addition to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Texas Labor Code also applies to age discrimination cases in Texas. Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor code forbids discrimination against individuals who are 40 years of age or older.
The Texas labor code applies to employers with 15 or more employees. In Texas it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in any way against an older worker, retaliate against a worker who opposed an age discrimination practice, or assist anyone in performing age discrimination.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 also provides some protection for older workers as well. This law makes it illegal for individuals to: require older workers to waive their rights without first observing certain protections, target older workers for layoffs, or use an employee’s age as the basis for discrimination.
Individuals who believe that an employer violated the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the same way that the individual would report any other type of workplace discrimination.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 requires employers to include particular language about safeguards when older employees are asked to surrender their right to sue a company. By signing this a termination waiver, employees agree not to take any legal action in the future against the employer. In exchange for their signature, employees often give an incentive to leave voluntarily.
In accordance with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, individuals must be given twenty days to decide whether to sign a waiver that has been presented just to that individual and forty five days to decide whether to sign the waiver if the waiver is presented to a group. Individuals should note that under this Act, compensation for age discrimination is limited to back pay, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
Additional requirements are required for situations involving discriminatory layoffs. The Older Worker Protection Act requires employers to provide employees who are over forty years old with 45 days to consider severance agreements and 7 days to revoke the individual’s severance after signing in the event that the individual changes their mind.
Establishing that Age Discrimination Occurred
Proving age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or Texas Labor Code can be particularly difficult. The best way to demonstrate that age discrimination has occurred is to reveal patterns by an employer that treat younger workers more favorably than older workers.
The Limit of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
While the Employment Act applies to employees, the Act does not protect several groups, including independent contractors and business executives over the age of sixty five who have spent the last two years in a policy making position.
Nearly every other type of worker group, however, is protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It should be noted that the term “employees” is broadly interpreted in these types of situations and can include both part-time employees and independent contractors.
Remedies for Employees Who Have Experienced Age Discrimination
When age discrimination occurs, employees are able to recover a variety of types of compensation. Some of the various types of compensation include: attorney fees, compensatory damages, lost wages, and punitive damages.
Depending on whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or Texas Labor Code act applies will greatly determine what types of compensation an individual can receive. The remedies that are awarded also greatly depend on the negative effects that an individual would suffer as a result of age based discrimination.
Ways to Decrease the Risk of Employment Discrimination
There are some key pieces of advice that individuals should follow to decrease the risk of experiencing employment discrimination. This advice includes the following important elements that workers over the age of forty should emphasize during the hiring process:
- Workers should suggest that they have significant experience that younger workers could not possibly have.
- Individuals should focus on their ability to become passionately involved with a project.
- Workers should point to their long-term productive history as workers.
- Up to Date Skills. Individuals should make sure that they remain up to date about the latest knowledge and skills required by a job.