As an experienced New York Employment Lawyer, people come in to me all the time, especially with the fact that the workforce of this country is aging, that people are working longer, and they come in, one particular individual comes in and tells us that he or she was the oldest person in the company, has just been terminated, and he or she is sure she has a claim of age discrimination. It really depends. First of all we inquire: how big is the employer? Because only certain employers are covered by the Age Discrimination and Employment Act. Very small employers, for example less than four employees, are not covered by the act and even by New York State law.
Our New York Employment Lawyers ask how many employees were there, that’s the first question. We then ask: what are the ages of the other employees and how old are you? Because if you’re 35 years old, even if you’re the oldest person in the company, you’re not going to have an age claim under federal law. So how old are you and we ask how old the other employees are. But the key question is: what are the circumstances in the termination? Was there a layoff? Someone has to be the oldest employee in the company, was there a layoff?
Was the job, in essence, abolished? Or who replaced you in the job? If you come in and tell me that you’re 65 and a 30 year old replaced you, we’re going to look at that very seriously. But an age discrimination claim in this day and time is very, very difficult to prove, and the employee has to prove that age is the reason for the termination. Not just a reason, but the reason, and those facts and circumstances are often hard to come by. One doesn’t have an age discrimination claim just because of your age or just because you’re the oldest employee.
An employer is entitled to terminate even the oldest employee. It’s whether that termination was because of your age. We do a fact intensive investigation along with the client; it’s a collaborative effort to see if we can come within that rubric and take some legal action.