Many people think that employers would welcome older workers on the payroll
and value the experience they bring to the job. Unfortunately this is
not always the case. As the American workforce ages, so has discrimination
against older workers. In fact,
age discrimination is one of the fastest growing types ofemployment discrimination.
In a recent case evaluating the discrimination claims of a 59-year-old
Earl v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc., the Ninth Circuit determined that the older worker, Charlene Earl, could
bring a claim for age discrimination where she was able to show specific
and substantial evidence that significantly younger workers received more
lenient treatment from the company for violations of the same company policies.
Age discrimination laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA) make age discrimination illegal and prohibit discrimination against
anyone of the age of 40. This includes taking adverse employment actions
or subjecting you to harassment because of your age.
Here, Earl was fired after working 12 years with minimal discipline. Nielsen
claimed that it fired her for legitimate reasons after determining she
had committed several policy violations. However, Earl countered that
this was “pretext” and that the real reason she was fired
was her age. As evidence she showed examples that Nielsen had treated
younger, similarly situated employees better and that she was fired without
first providing her a “performance improvement plan (PIP)”
which was standard procedure.
An important consideration in the case was whether the employees shown
were proper “comparators” with Earl. The court determined
that in age discrimination cases, older employees may use evidence of
better treatment of younger employees –even if they are over 40.
As stated in the opinion, “although
sex (discrimination) andrace discrimination rely on membership in a particular class, “age discrimination is
relative, the proper inquiry is not whether the other recruiter are outside
the protected class, but whether they are substantially younger than Earl.”
“[T]he fact that a replacement is substantially younger than the
plaintiff is a far more reliable indicator of age discrimination than
is the fact that the plaintiff was replaced by someone outside the protected
Because Earl was able to show younger employees received better treatment
than she did, the court allowed Earl’s claim for discrimination
If you believe you have been treated unfairly at work as a result of your
age, you may have a claim for age discrimination. An experiencedAtlanta age discrimination lawyer can evaluate the circumstances and provide crucial advice regarding your
next steps. For more information and a confidential consultation, please
contact the experienced
Georgia employment discrimination lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC.