Have you been notified that you are going to be laid off? Do you suspect that you're being laid off because of your age? While employers generally have the right to lay off employees to cut costs, they can't target older employees because of their age. If you believe that your age was the primary reason for your termination, you may be able to sue for discrimination. You'll need to build a strong case, though. You have to show that age was the primary driver of the termination, and not other factors like salary, performance, or organizational changes. Here are a few tips to help you successfully take action against your employer:
Document everything and have it reviewed by an attorney.
You'll need all the evidence you can get to show that the termination was age-based. Think back and record anything that may indicate your age was an issue. Did any of your superiors jokingly ask you when you would retire? Did the company cut down on your travel schedule to make the job less rigorous for you? Did they shift any of your duties to younger employees? Write down anything that could be age-related and try to document as much detail as possible.
Also, gather all important documents related to your job. That could include performance reports, emails about your job performance, and even your termination notice and severance package. Then take all those materials to a discrimination attorney, like those at the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., for him or her to review them. Keep in mind, your severance package may come with a condition that you won't sue and you may have a limited time frame to take the severance, so you need to have your documents reviewed quickly.
Follow the appropriate steps.
If you think you were discriminated against, you probably won't be able to sue immediately. You may need to file a complaint first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will launch an investigation. When their investigation is complete, you'll likely receive a notification that you can begin your suit. The EEOC could levy the company with fines and you may be able to use their findings as evidence in your suit.
There may also be state and local agencies that need to conduct investigations prior to a suit being filed. Again, a discrimination lawyer will know which steps to follow.
Don't discount mediation.
Before your suit goes to trial, the court will likely encourage both you and your employer to enter into voluntary mediation. Trials can be difficult for everyone involved, so there's great motivation for the court to avoid trial as much as possible. While you may want to win a big judgement against your employer, be sure to consider that the burden of proof is on you. That burden may be a tall order. If you fall short, you may not win anything.
Mediation is a good opportunity for you and the employer to reach an agreement and for you to get fair compensation without taking the risk of a trial. Plus, if you avoid trial, you'll likely greatly reduce your attorney fees.
For more information, talk to a discrimination attorney in your area. They can help you decide if a suit is right for you.