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Proving age discrimination in the workplace

As a previous post highlighted, age discrimination could occur in any industry and for various reasons. Being mistreated in the work environment on the basis of age is a difficult situation to experience, and employees in Minnesota and elsewhere should know the available options.

Both state and federal laws protect employees from discrimination based on age, and employees are able to cite these laws when making a claim of age discrimination. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, also known as ADEA, protects both employees and applicants who are 40-years-old or older from being discriminated against based on their age.

While the ADEA works to prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of age in the application, interview, hiring, promoting and termination phases, claims under this federal law can be very difficult to prove. Proving age discrimination means more than just uncovering evidence of this form of discrimination. The employee or applicant must show that adverse action was taken based on age. For example, it is often not enough to just show that the employee was replaced by a younger employee. While this evidence could support a claim, it is often not sufficient on its own to show adverse action.

If an employee can show and thus prove that an employer took intentional actions on the basis age, then an employer could be held liable for age discrimination. Depending on the situation and the claims and damages asserted, the employee could receive compensation based on damages such as back pay and punitive damages.

Understanding whether an employee or applicant was discriminated against based on age is often not difficult to assert. However, it is often a difficult claim to prove. It is important to fully understand the laws protecting employees and the actions that can be taken.

Source: Employment.findlaw.com, "Age Discrimination in Employment," accessed Sept. 21, 2015

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