Hi everyone, I’m Jamie Gilmore, an employment attorney with Bailey & Galyen. We all have heard and commented on the fact that we are living through an extraordinary time. As a result of the COVID pandemic, employers have closed and furloughed, terminated, or laid off employees at an unprecedented rate. The unemployment rate during the COVID pandemic has been compared to and argued that it was worse than the Great Depression. Employers often use economic slumps as an opportunity to eliminate older workers. Research has also shown that, during times of higher unemployment, older workers are some of the first to be fired and last to be hired back.
Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that complaints of age discrimination significantly rise with rising unemployment numbers. In fact, the statistics show that complaints of age discrimination rise at a higher rate than the rise in unemployment. This trend is not new. Historically, employers use economic hardship as a reason to terminate older workers.
Looking for a job in your 50s is very different than looking for one in your 30s or even 40s. In a youth obsessed job market, older workers are unemployed and searching for work longer than the younger workers employers seek. Age discrimination by an employer is illegal. It has been illegal for more than 50 years. While there are several federal and state laws prohibiting age discrimination, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 or ADEA and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) are the most well known. The ADEA and TCHRA protect certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. These laws also protect applicants and employees from retaliation for reporting a violation of the ADEA or TCHRA.
Age discrimination complaints under the ADEA and TCHRA must initially be filed with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division. There are strict time limitations to asserting an age claim. The first step in any age discrimination complaint is to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC or TWC and this must be done within a specific window of time. To assert federal claims under the ADEA, a Charge must be filed within 300 days of the discrimination or retaliation. To assert claims in state court under the TCHRA, a Charge must be filed within 180 days of the discrimination or retaliation. If you do not file the charge with the agencies within the time period, your legal claims for age discrimination may be lost forever.
As with any legal matter, individuals can file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC or TWC on their own. However, this decision may lead to difficulties and pitfalls in the future because claims and allegations may not be properly framed at the EEOC. It is my recommendation that you speak with an employment attorney early and before filing any charge of discrimination.
The employment attorneys at Bailey & Galyen are experienced and versed in filing charges with the EEOC and TWC and are prepared to fight for your legal rights from Charge to jury verdict. We understand the games that employers play and excuses they throw at employees when age discrimination occurs. At Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free consultation with experienced employment attorneys and staff to give you the advice and guidance about your legal rights. Call me today to discuss your employment situation.