Share on Facebook
Share on X
Share on LinkedIn
By Louise Herman

When you begin a new job, you may be extremely excited to take your career in a new direction. However, after a great track record, you’re passed up for a promotion in favor of an older, less-qualified co-worker. When you ask, you’re told you’re just too young to assume the responsibility, which seems like age-based discrimination. If you believe you’re working in a hostile or discriminatory environment, ensuring you contact a Providence County, Rhode Island employment lawyer to help explore your legal options is essential to understand what your rights as an employee are.

What Is Age-Based Discrimination?

Age-based discrimination occurs when an employer treats someone differently based on their age. It is illegal to fire, hire, demote, or deny an employee opportunities because of their age. This is protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, also called the ADEA. This applies to current and potential employers, regardless of whether or not you work for the company or are a hiring candidate.

Can Those Under 40 File a Claim?

Under the ADEA, employees under 40 are prohibited from filing an age-based discrimination claim. While there are some states that protect all employees from this discrimination regardless of their age, Rhode Island does not offer these protections. This means that an employer telling a staff member that they are too young to handle a project is not prohibited under the ADEA.

However, this does not mean you should suffer in an unhappy work environment. If you are belittled and denied opportunities because you are young, despite being qualified, you may be able to file a lawsuit under the pretense of a hostile work environment. Because you are being degraded and harassed for being younger than your co-workers, there could be a claim for an unsafe work environment.

If you notice that your boss provides your co-workers around the same age as you opportunities they’ve denied you, they may be using your age as an excuse. Because you cannot file a claim under the ADEA, your employer may feel like they found a loophole. However, if your peers receiving the opportunities are of a different race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious background, your employer may be discriminating against you in a different way. If this is the case, you can file a corresponding discrimination claim, regardless of age.

Can an Attorney Help?

If you are in an unhappy and unsafe work environment, contacting an attorney as soon as possible is essential to explore your options. Though you may not be experiencing age-based discrimination according to the law, you may be a victim of a toxic work environment that should be remedied as soon as possible.

At the Herman Law Group, we believe all employees have the right to a safe and productive work environment. If you’ve been victimized and belittled because of your age, you don’t have to settle. Contact our dedicated team of legal professionals today to learn more about your rights in the workplace.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.