Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Individuals 40 years of age or older are protected from employment discrimination by the Age Discrimination in Employment 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 and older are protected from discrimination in – among other areas – hiring, training, compensation, benefits, assignments, and termination. Individuals forty or older are also protected from retaliatory practices, should they 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 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 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). This charge must typically be filed at the EEOC within 300 days of the adverse action.

The Illinois Human Rights Act

Moreover, age discrimination violates Illinois state law. The Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1-10, is generally administered by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”). The IHRA applies to all individuals, and in part makes it unlawful for an employer to subject an employee to an averse employment action on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental handicap, military status, or sexual orientation. Examples of adverse employment actions include constructive discharge, termination, refusal to hire, demotion, discrimination or harassment, and exposure to a hostile work environment. The IHRA moreover 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 IHRA, an injured employee must first exhaust the administrative remedies by filing a charge with the IDHR. From the date of the adverse action, employees have 180 days to file at the IDHR. Once the IDHR has progressed through investigation, and issued a finding, the employee may file a lawsuit in state court or proceed to the Human Rights Commission.

Remedies for Discrimination

A successful plaintiff in a civil suit 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.

Our Employment Law Services

Age discrimination is a very difficult claim to prove in an administrative agency or court of law. However, our attorneys have successfully resolved claims for our ADEA clients in negotiation and at the administrative agencies.

Consult with an Employment Law Attorney

If you have questions about discrimination on the basis of age, or feel that your employer has violated the ADEA or IHRA, contact Siegel & Dolan to speak to a Chicago employment lawyer.