Often times employees believe that they are being discriminated based upon their vast experience in a company or their advanced age. In some situations if an employee has worked with a company so long that they are considered to have seniority over other co-workers, they feel targeted in order for the company to reduce their payroll. The ironic thing is that in order for someone to have a valid claim for age discrimination under the Federal Age Discrimination Employment Act, they only need to be over the age of forty (40). Likewise, under the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, if an employee is seven (7) years older than another employee who is being treated more favorably, they may be able to file a claim for age discrimination in the workplace pursuant to M.G.L. c. 151B.
It is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee who is over the age of forty (40) in a hostile or adverse way as opposed to how the employer treats other co-workers who are under this threshold age pursuant to The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Age Discrimination in Employment Act also makes it illegal for an company to require an employee to retire when they reach a certain age.
The only real defense that an employer can raise if they treat an employee over the age of 40 in a disparate manor is if the job or duties of that job have a bona fide occupational qualification. Essentially, an employer must be able to demonstrate that no person over the age of 40 or whatever the specific age cut-off that is used after 40 years by the employer can not perform the essential functions of the position. If the employer can not prove that there is a real reason that the job duties must be performed by a younger employee, then a judgment for the discriminated employee is likely to follow.
If you believe that you have been treated differently at work because of your age, you may have a valid claim for age discrimination and you should consult with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer in your state. However, you should keep in mind that every case is unique and the specific facts in your matter will determine the outcome.