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Millennials Might Have Age Discrimination Claims

September 6, 2021
By Haeggquist & Eck

The various generations of the United States have different unique rights as they reach certain benchmarks. Some benchmarks aim to protect older Americans from discrimination, while others might be in place to prevent teenagers from serving as president.

Age discrimination is a complex concept. In some cases, you may need to reach a certain age before you’re qualified for a particular role. An employer cannot legally consider a person’s age in other contexts. One group of Americans about to experience the realities of protection against age discrimination is that of Millennials, the oldest of which will turn 40 in 2021, opening the door to ADEA protections.

How Does the ADEA Protect Americans From Age Discrimination?

The ADEA, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, protects the rights of Americans who reached the age of 40 or older. As reported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against persons aged 40 years or older.

The act outlines Congress’s declaration that “in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment when displaced from jobs.” The ADEA enables individuals of all ages equal access to employment, regardless of age.

The Millennial Population Is Aging and Approaching or Under ADEA Protection

To understand who we are talking about, we’ll take a brief moment to explain what the Millennial generation is. According to the Pew Research Center in a recent article titled “Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins,” the Millennial generation was born between 1981 and 1996, ages 25 and 40 in 2021. The Pew Research Center considers any individual born from 1997 onward to be part of the population of Americans categorized as Generation Z. Millennials are aging, and under the age 40 outset of ADEA protection, may have arrived there.

ADEA and Age Discrimination Lawsuits and Damages

If your employer discriminated against you because of your age, you may qualify for an ADEA-based cause of action against the employer who discriminated. Speak with an attorney to determine the best course of action to pursue recovery from your damages. In some instances of age discrimination, the law may entitle you to punitive damages beyond only your compensatory damages. However, if you file under the ADEA, the law may preclude you from recovering anything beyond compensatory damages.

The purpose of compensatory damages is to compensate victims for the expenses incurred due to the discrimination, including lost wages, the cost associated with a job search, and other related expenses. Punitive damages are those which courts can award you to punish the employer for the act of discrimination. If your case were to go to a jury, the availability of punitive damages could substantially change the outcome of your settlement or case.

An Experience of Age Discrimination Does Not Guarantee a Settlement

The unique circumstances of your age discrimination case will determine whether you are capable of recovering and to what degree. Having gone through an experience of age discrimination does not automatically mean you will recover a settlement, or even that you will win in court. The ADEA protects employees in the US from age discrimination. However, if you think an employer has discriminated against you, it is not as simple as demanding a settlement. You, or better yet, an experienced attorney, must carefully assess the facts and related law and then your claims rooted in them to support your ability to demonstrate a case.

Some employers that engage in age discrimination are unwilling to settle and will require that you bring your case to court. The size of the employer, their history with employment lawsuits, and their available resources will markedly influence the outcome of your case. It is important to assemble your evidence correctly and to package your case in the most advantageous way possible. An attorney can help you not only determine if you have an age discrimination lawsuit but also maximize the recovery you might achieve.

The Size of the Employer Will Often Determine the Size of Your in-Court Settlement

If you are a Millennial and have an ADEA-based claim of discrimination, the amount you can recover if you bring your case to a federal court is limited. The federal court can award up to $50,000 if the employer has between 15 and 100 employees, up to $100,000 if they have 101 to 200 employees, $200,000 if the employer has between 201 and 500 employees, and finally, a maximum of $300,000 for companies with over 500 employees. These amounts, however, account for only the in-court maximums you can recover.

If you are a Millennial and have experienced age discrimination, the strength of your case may lead to a settlement that exceeds the maximums offered in federal court. Litigation can be costly, and an attorney can best advise you as to what your options are.

At what age does ADEA kick in?

The ADEA protections kick in when you have reached the age of 40, at which point the law protects you against age discrimination in covered workplaces.

What are Millennials, and when were they born?

The Pew Research Center assigns the term millennial to the generation of Americans born between 1981 and 1996.

Are Millennials covered under the ADEA?

Those Millennials born in 1981 will reach the age of 40 in 2021 and thereby qualify for ADEA-based protections in the workplace.

Is an ADEA-based lawsuit my best option to recover from an age discrimination suit?

Not necessarily. For example, if your claim involves punitive damages, a suit based on the ADEA may prevent you from recovering them.

Can an attorney help me with my age discrimination lawsuit?

Aaron Olsen
Attorney, Aaron Olsen

An attorney can help you understand whether you have a claim, and if so, the damages available to you and how to maximize them. A lawyer can also fight for those damages, making sure to meet all filing deadlines, following all proper procedures, negotiating with the employer or insurance company, and arguing your case in court if necessary.

If you think you have an employment discrimination claim, call an employment rights lawyer today for a claim evaluation.

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