Prima Facie and Age Discrimination

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A prima facie age discrimination is a case in which the evidence presented is sufficient for a judgment to be made unless the evidence is contested.  Court rulings have made it easy to make a prima facie case, but they have also made age discrimination cases more difficult to win by requiring plaintiffs to prove that age is a deciding factor in adverse actions against an employee.  Competent legal assistance in this complex area of law is essential.

Prima Facie Requirement for an Age Discrimination Case

The prima facie case is the bare minimum that a plaintiff must present in a lawsuit.  In age discrimination, cases a prima facie case would consist of the following:

  • he or she belongs to a protected class
  • he or she fired, demoted  or not promoted to a job  that he or she  was qualified and for which the employer was seeking applicants;
  • he or she was rejected for the position despite his or her qualifications; and
  • the position remained open after his or her rejection and the employer continued to seek applications from other people with similar qualifications to the plaintiff, or hired someone younger than the plaintiff

Court Rulings for Prima Facie in Age Discrimination Cases

Having a prima facie age discrimination case is not enough to win an age discrimination lawsuit.  Recent Supreme Court rulings have made proving age discrimination more difficult.  It is no longer enough to prove that age was a motivating factor in an age discrimination case; you must now prove that it is a deciding factor in the employer’s age discrimination.  Examples of situations that prove age discrimination are:

  • Using seniority as a method of downsizing when alternate methods were available
  • Overtly stating a preference for younger workers rather than older workers.
  • Hiring moratoriums that have a disparate impact on workers over age 40

How a Lawyer Can Help

 Age discrimination is a hot button topic these days because of recession.  The EEOC has reported an increase in claims for age discrimination because of downsizing.  Supreme Court rulings in June of 2009 have made it more difficult to pursue an age discrimination case.  The law is currently influx.  A qualified attorney is essential to proving a case for age discrimination.