Equal Rights for All Ages: Michigan's Leading Discrimination Lawyer
Discrimination is both illegal and immoral, but stopping it is easier said than done. This is particularly true of age discrimination, a form of workplace bias that often slips under the radar. If you have been fired, passed up for a promotion or otherwise harmed due to your age, you may have trouble proving that your employer’s decision was biased. Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni & Rivers strives to uncover age discrimination in even the most difficult cases. Operating out of Royal Oak, Michigan, we know how to find and challenge even the subtlest signs of workplace bias.
Michigan Age Discrimination Laws & How They Protect You
Under the Michigan Civil Rights Act, employers may not use age as a factor in:
- Hiring or discharging employees
- Organizing or classifying employees in ways that affect workplace opportunities
- Limiting employees’ access to training programs
- Publishing application forms
Michigan law forbids any form of age discrimination, regardless of how specific age groups are treated. Whether your employer mistreats you for being too young or too old, they are violating your rights.
Termination Based on Age
In age discrimination cases, it is important to know the difference between legal employer actions that happen to disproportionately affect workers of a certain age and actual age discrimination. Employers are, for example, allowed to replace high-earning employees with those who have lower earnings. Since older workers tend to have higher earnings than younger ones, those who are laid off will be older on average than those who aren’t, but that doesn’t mean the employer is discriminating. However, employers are not allowed to announce layoffs simply to get rid of older workers. They also cannot lay you off to stop you from becoming eligible for pensions and other benefits. Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni & Rivers will examine the circumstances under which you were laid off, consider who else was laid off and determine whether your employer’s actions were discriminatory.
Employers’ efforts to terminate older workers are often based on a person’s age, not their capability or competency. This is illegal and there are specific laws which prohibit age discrimination in the workplace, including the Age Discrimination Employment Act, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act and Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires employers to give statistical information to employees affected by a workforce reduction which lists the ages and job titles of those laid off and those retained before the employer can obtain a valid release. Employees age 40 and over must also be given 45 days to consider whether to sign the release.
What to Do If You Suspect Discrimination
If you think your employer is discriminating based on age, contact a discrimination attorney as quickly as possible. The sooner the attorney begins investigating, the less time the employer will have to cover their tracks and come up with an explanation for their actions. You should also request statistical information on everyone who was affected by your employer’s decision; under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, your employer must give you this data.
Finally, do not sign a release that prevents you from filing a lawsuit, as this will make it impossible to challenge their decision in court no matter how strong the evidence of discrimination is. It is a common practice for employers to try to obtain releases from employees to prevent them from bringing lawsuits to challenge their termination. The release frees the employer from any and all liability for age discrimination or other claims in return for some financial consideration.
If you have been asked to sign a similar severance agreement or waiver relating to your layoff, or if you believe you are being or have been pushed-out or discriminated against at work because of your age, call us. As we have for so many other older workers, we will aggressively advocate for you, defend your rights to continue working or see that you are compensated for your economic losses and other damages.