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Age discrimination in the workplace

Under federal law, discriminating in employment matters against a person based on their age is illegal, but may Maryland residents may not be familiar with the particulars of the law. Those who believe they have suffered discrimination in any aspect of work, including hiring, firing, pay, training, benefits and job assignment, may file a discrimination lawsuit against an employer. A lawsuit may also be filed due to harassment from either an employer, other workers or clients.

One lesser known aspect of age discrimination laws has to do with the age at which the majority of the law takes effect. Age discrimination laws are primarily designed to protect the rights of older workers, and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act only protects workers who are 40 or older. It is also still possible for an employer to hire an older worker over a younger worker even if both workers are 40 or older without being guilty of discrimination.

Harassment is another area of discrimination under the law. Harassment tends to be a legal gray area open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis. Technically, the law does not protect a worker against teasing, offhand comments or incidents that are not considered serious. A lawsuit is only likely to hold if harassment is so serious or consistent that it results in a hostile work environment or is seriously detrimental to the person's mental health.

An attorney can assist a client in understanding his or her rights when it comes to age discrimination or harassment in the workplace. The attorney can examine a client's claim and determine if a lawsuit under the present circumstances is possible. As in all lawsuits, proper evidence and documentation is important to the claim.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Age Discrimination", accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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