Age Discrimination is defined by law as any negative employment action that takes place against an employee or prospective employee who is 40 years or older.  There are more and more types of age discrimination today because of the tough economy.  Just like other forms of discrimination, if age is utilized to limit an employee or prospective employee a claim may be filed with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Both agencies will investigate claims and try and hold the company responsible.   Both agencies will also work with the attorney to make sure witnesses are interviewed and the right documents are secured from the company.

Many times employers will ask a prospective employee questions that are formed to get the age of the prospective employee without asking for his or her age.  For example, the employer will ask the year you graduated from high school, as a way of determining your age.  Additionally, many times an employer can look at the work history of an employee and determine the persons age.  Employers think that older workers cost more money and cost more in benefits.  They also believe that older workers are more likely to not get pushed around and to not work without pay.  Whereas many times younger employees will do whatever they are told because they are naive and want to keep their job at all costs.  Employers take advantage of this and try to get extra work without pay out of younger employees. 

One thing that employers fail to take into consideration is how much experience and maturity an older worker brings to the job.  This more then offsets the extra money and higher medical premiums.  One thing is clear, an employer may not treat a person over 40 different from a person under 40.  The damages when a company treats a person different based on age can be substantial.  First, if successful the person will be able to collect lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress.  The lost wages can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if they job pays enough and the lost wage damage can be proved to that amount.  Many times employment records of all employees can be utilized to show a pattern of discriminatory behavior by the company directed at older workers.  This requires an experienced employment attorney and also some favorable facts. 

If this is happening to you what should you do?  Well you must take immediate action because there are strict time limits involved in filing a claim of discrimination in Illinois.  In Chicago there are even more options but there are still strict time limits.  My Chicago office handles these types of cases and can usually negotiate as successful settlement on cases that have supporting facts.  However, I can't determine the facts of the case if you don't set up an appointment and discuss them with me.  Remember the company has legal help and advisers helping them--you should too.