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Age Discrimination

Age discrimination happens in the workplace when someone (an employee or applicant) is treated differently because of their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it is illegal for an employer to treat employees differently if they are over the age of 40. Washington DC and counties in Maryland and Virginia also have anti-age discrimination laws with different thresholds. For example, in Washington DC, it is illegal to treat anyone differently because of their age, but the victim does not have to be over the age of 40 to be protected from discrimination.

Employment discrimination against an individual because of their age can take many forms. The following are most common:

  • Non-selection for a position
  • Non-promotion for a position
  • Unequal training
  • Job assignments
  • Pay
  • Firing
  • Different performance standards
  • Layoff
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Harassment
  • Any other term or condition of employment.


If you think you have been discriminated against because of your age, you have deadlines by which you must file a charge of discrimination. These deadlines depend on where you worked (or where you applied for a job, if you were an applicant). If you are an employee or applicant with the federal government or D.C. government, special rules apply.

In private industry, to prove an age discrimination claim, you have to show that you were subjected to a personnel action and that but for your age, the employer would not have treated you differently. Because employers rarely admit that they discriminate, these cases can be difficult to prove. One of the most common methods of proving a discrimination claim involves disproving the employer’s alleged reasons for the action. For example, an employer might claim that it did not select an older candidate for a vacant job posting because the older candidate was not as qualified as the younger candidate. However, if we can prove that the older candidate had equally good or better qualifications than the younger candidate who was selected, we have presented evidence suggesting that the employer’s stated reasons are not the real reasons. This would be evidence of discrimination.

You can also prove age discrimination with evidence that the employer treated all individuals over the age of 40 poorly. For example, if the employer has used ageist comments and never promotes older employees, this would be evidence of discrimination.

If you work in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia, we can represent you. You must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with your local human rights office. The rules and procedures of each office are very different, so it is important that you talk with a lawyer to understand your rights and obligations.

If you think you have been the victim of sex discrimination and want to know your rights and options, contact us. During an initial consultation, we can evaluate whether you may have an employment discrimination claim, how to pursue and protect your rights, and identify what remedies may be available for you.


For internal use only