How to File an Age Discrimination Claim

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The first step to filing an age discrimination case is to recognize that you may have a claim.  The following are examples of potentially unlawful actions under the ADEA:

  • age discrimination in hiring: You were not hired because the employer wanted a younger-looking person to do the job.
  • age discrimination in the work place: You received a negative job evaluation because you were not "flexible" in taking on new projects.
  • age discrimination layoff: You were fired because your boss wanted to keep younger workers who are paid less.
  • age discrimination promotion: You were turned down for a promotion, which went to someone younger hired from outside the company, because the boss says the company "needs new blood."
  • When company layoffs are announced, most of the persons laid off were older, while younger workers with less seniority and less on-the-job experience were kept on.
  • age discrimination in work: Before you were fired, your supervisor made age-related remarks about you, such as that you were "over-the-hill," or "ancient."

Filing an Age Discrimination Complaint

If you feel your rights may have been violated because of your age, your next step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  (EEOC)  The EEOC has an assessment system that will help you determine if you are filing your claim with the right office that can be completed online.  Once you complete the assessment, you will then have to complete an intake questionnaire.  The intake questionnaire can act as your charge of discrimination if all the essential information is provided.  The information needed to file the charge is as follows:

  • The complaining party's name, address, and telephone number;
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the respondent employer, employment agency, or union that is alleged to have discriminated, and number of employees (or union members), if known;
  • A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused the complaining party to believe that his or her rights were violated); and
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation(s).

Timelines for Filing a Complaint

There are strict time limits for filing a charge of discrimination.  A charge of discrimination must be filed within the EEOC guidelines before suit can be filed in Court.  Complaints or charges of age discrimination must be filed:

  • A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party's rights.
  • This 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law.  For ADEA charges, only state laws extend the filing limit to 300 days.
  • To protect legal rights, it is always best to contact EEOC promptly when discrimination is suspected.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to file your charge with the EEOC or your state agency.  It would be wise to consult an experienced employment law attorney early in the process because they could assist you in determining what evidence you are going to need to prove your case.  The earlier you gather the information the stronger your case may be, especially if you are still on the job when you file your charge.

To file a charge for age discrimination you need to be aware that you may have been a victim of illegal activity by your employer.  Check the Federal EEOC website and take the intake questionnaire, which includes an assessment that will help you determine if you may have a claim and if you are contacting the right office.  You must file a charge with the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit and there are strict timelines involved.  Consult an attorney early in the process to help you build a strong case.