Westchester County Age Discrimination

Westchester County Age Discrimination

Employment Lawyers Assisting Residents of Westchester County

As of 2010, about a quarter of the people in Westchester County were under age 18. However, nearly another quarter were ages 45-64. About 14% of the County’s residents were at least 65 years old or older. When you apply for a job or go to work, your employer is supposed to consider you on the merits, rather than judging you for your age. Age discrimination happens if an employer makes an adverse employment decision due to an employee or job applicant's age, rather than past performance or other merit-based factors. There are some important differences between federal and state prohibitions against age discrimination, so you should consult an experienced Westchester County age discrimination lawyer about your situation. At Phillips & Associates, our skillful trial attorneys may be able to represent you in an age discrimination lawsuit.

Federal Laws Against Age Discrimination

Age discrimination happens if an employer makes an adverse employment decision based on your age, rather than performance-based factors. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the New York State Human Rights Law, age discrimination is prohibited in workplaces, but these are very different laws.

The federal ADEA only applies to employers that have a minimum of 20 employees. An employer covered by the ADEA cannot make employment decisions based on your age if you are 40 or older. This includes discrimination against existing employees as well as age discrimination during the interview or hiring process. However, there is no federal prohibition against age discrimination against people who are younger than 40.

Often, companies with older employees believe that there are higher costs in connection with older employees because of employee benefit plans, such as those for life insurance, retirement, or pensions. An employer is not allowed to pay less for an older worker's benefits than they would for a younger employee. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires employers to use certain words and safety measures to protect older workers. An employer that is asking you to give up the right to sue for age discrimination must comply with the OWBPA, which amends the ADEA and is designed to safeguard older workers' benefits. The OWBPA requires that an employer meet certain factors in connection with waivers of age discrimination claims in severance agreements. An age discrimination attorney in Westchester County can review a severance agreement for you and make sure that you are not inappropriately waiving your rights.

Under the OWBPA, any waiver of an age discrimination claim in a severance agreement must be knowing and voluntary and must also comply with the following requirements. It must (1) be written in clear, unambiguous language, (2) explicitly reference claims or rights under the ADEA, (3) let the employee know that they should talk to an attorney before accepting, (4) allow for 21 days to consider an offer of severance or consideration, (5) give the employee 7 days to take back their signature, (6) not reference any claims or rights that arise after the date of execution, and (7) be linked to consideration (something of value) on top of what the employee has already earned. In other words, your employer cannot provide that it will pay you for your last pay period only if you sign the waiver.

If you sign the waiver, you give up your right to sue the employer based on age discrimination or other employer misconduct. An offer of incentive to leave is a sign that the company may be concerned about a wrongful termination lawsuit. It is important that you consult an experienced Westchester County age discrimination attorney before signing the waiver. Your employer should not retaliate against you for not signing the waiver.

State Laws Against Age Discrimination

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits age discrimination in employment, promotions, termination, and apprentice and training programs as long as (1) the job applicant or employee is 18 or older, and (2) being of a certain age is not a bona fide occupational qualification. The state law applies to employers that have at least four employees. Age is considered a bona fide occupational qualification if the age requirement is reasonably necessary for business operations. Even though there is a prohibition on age discrimination under state law, a prospective employer can ask you for your age or date of birth at the time that you apply for employment.

Explore Your Options with an Age Discrimination Lawyer in Westchester County

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients who have faced age discrimination under federal or state laws in Westchester County. If you believe that you have been mistreated in the workplace or as a job applicant, contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form to set up a free consultation. We represent people in communities such as Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and White Plains.

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