Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Individuals forty (40) years of age or older are protected from employment discrimination by the Age Discrimination in Employemnt Act of 1967 (“ADEA”). The ADEA prohibits employers from altering the terms, conditions, or privileges of an individual’s employment on the basis of age. Thus, individuals forty (40) and older are protected from discrimnination in–among other areas–hiring, training, compensation, benefits, assignments, and termination. Individuals forty (40) or older are also protected from retaliatory practices in the event they should oppose employment practices made unlawful by the ADEA or participate in any way in an ADEA proceeding.
The ADEA applies to employees who work for a private employer with twenty (20) or more employees and covers state and local government agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
In order to bring a civil claim under the ADEA, an individual must first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). This charge must be filed at the EEOC within a certain period of time of the adverse action.
Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act
Moreover, age discrimination violates Rhode Island state law. The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”), R.I.G.L., §28-5-1 et seq., is generally administered by the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (“RICHR”). The FEPA applies to all individuals, and, in part, makes it unlawful for an employer to subject an employee to an adverse employment action on the basis of, among many other things, age. Examples of adverse employment actions include constructive discharge, termination, refusal to hire, demotion, discrimination, and exposure to a hostile work environment. The FEPA also contains a provision making it unlawful to retaliate against employees who oppose discriminatory behavior or participate in any sort of proceeding relating to a complaint of discrimination.
In order to bring a civil claim under the FEPA, an injured employee must first exhaust the administrative remedies by filing a charge of discrimination with the RICHR. From the date of the adverse action, employees have one (1) year to file at the RICHR. Once the RICHR has progressed through its investigation, and issued a finding, the employee may file a lawsuit in state court or federal court, if the charge was co-filed with the EEOC.
Remedies for Discrimination
A successful plaintiff in an age claim may be entitled to back pay, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief, front pay, and liquidated damages for willful violations. Neither compensatory nor punitive damages are available under the ADEA. However, such damages are permissible under the FEPA for age discrimination and retaliation.
If you or someone you know believe you have been subjected to workplace discrimination due to age, please contact us to discuss your matter.