Various forms of discrimination in employment situations have garnered much attention and rightfully so. Employers have leverage in the vast majority of New York workplace relationships, and an unscrupulous boss can place a worker in an untenable position. Without a legal remedy, the employee would be faced with the unpleasant reality of accepting poor working conditions because complaining would likely result in termination. However, current laws tend to protect certain categories of workers over others.
The landmark legislation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that created Title VII established the basis for employment discrimination cases, but it only applies to claims based on race, sex, religion, color, and national origin. If an employer’s reasons for improper treatment of an employee are primarily due to the employee’s status as a member of a protected class, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages where appropriate can be collected in addition to monetary losses. Discrimination law experts emphasize age discrimination is not a violation of Title VII but falls under different laws.
Under the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967, emotional distress and punitive damages cannot be collected. Consequently, even though a worker may suffer clear discriminatory treatment, the only recovery will likely be a monetary loss, which could be minimal. Perhaps more importantly, where it is customary to award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in a Title VII claim, this is not the case with a violation of the ADEA. This combination of factors makes age discrimination cases far less attractive than Title VII cases.
A hostile work environment can be toxic to all employees. In addition to age discrimination, religious discrimination and sex and gender discrimination cases, many others may be actionable. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer may evaluate and make recommendations for a specific situation.