Expert lawyer, Tayeb Hyderally spends a large amount of his time educating both employees and employers about the various aspects of discrimination in the workplace and how it can be avoided. Both groups need to be well informed about their rights and responsibilities to ensure that all individuals are allowed the opportunity to work in a workplace which is free from discriminatory practices. And employees as well as employers are responsible to ensure that it does not occur and if it does that it is reported properly and taken care of quickly. No matter how educated we become regarding these very important employment law issues, sadly it occurs in many establishments today. In our thinking sometimes there are certain classes of people, such as doctors and lawyers, who are “above” discrimination. This is not the case as we will see in this case concerning a doctor who was the object of age discrimination in the workplace.
Dr. Zane Hurkin VS Woodward Resource Center
Dr. Zane Hurkin of Clive, Iowa was hired at Woodward Resource Center which is a facility through which treatment and services for mentally disabled individuals are provided. Dr. Hurkin was only on the job for 8 days before he was unjustly fired. Jill Zwagerman, his attorney, stated that he had been asked questions that were age-related during the interviewing process and upon being hired he was inadequately trained. His pay was also several thousand dollars less than the pay grade that had been posted.
Dr. Hurkin alleged that he was subjected to discriminatory treatment as well as harassment regarding his age and was denied job responsibilities. He stated that he did not receive training for some aspects of his job. He also alleged that his hours and pay had been reduced and he was not paid on an equal level with his peers and then he was terminated.
Dr. Hurkin stated that he had been asked some age related questions when he was interviewed for the job and after he was hired he was harassed and discriminated against because he was 81 years old. The company first cut his pay and then his hours before they fired him after only 8 days on the job. He had been a practicing physician for about 55 years and following the termination, Dr. Hurkin suffered from depression and required medical treatment.
According to the official court documents, the pay scale normally allotted to the position Dr. Hurkin was hired for paid somewhere between $162,843 and $231,608 annually. However, the doctor was only being paid $105,000 per year. The lawsuit alleged that he had indeed been subject to discriminatory practices. The courts agreed and he was awarded $140,000 in lost wages. He also received another $200,000 for emotional distress, both past and future. According to the Iowa Attorney General’s office a representative of Woodward Resources Center stated that they did not know if the facility would pursue an appeal of the jury’s decision or not. Their spokesman, Geoff Greenwood said that they would review their options.
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, a qualified person applying for a job cannot be denied employment based solely on their age. Tayeb Hyderally is an expert in employment law NJ who diligently represents cases where employment laws have been violated. He is also dedicated to help employees and employers become aware of various applicable employment laws. Ty Hyderally speaks to different types of groups to help inform individuals of their rights and responsibilities regarding employment laws. Texas Roadhouse is currently involved in a case where there has allegedly been repeated age discrimination in their hiring policies.
Because of increased claims citing age discrimination the EEOC filed a suit against Texas Roadhouse. The restaurant chain is accused of discriminating against job applicants because of their age. The EEOC stated in a press release that there had been a significant increase in complaints since 2007. Upon investigating the allegations, the EEOC pursued the lawsuit.
According to the suit filed the company officials told hiring personnel that younger people were preferred for open positions. Older applicants were told that they seemed old to be applying for a job in the restaurant; and many were told that the hiring officials were looking for people “on the younger side.”
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal statute which protects employees who are 40 years old or above from discriminatory practices based solely on their age. According to the ADEA guidelines, it is prohibited to favor a person who is younger over an older person (40 years old or older) based only on their age. These regulations include hiring, promotions, job duties, assignments, layoff, benefits and firing. It also prohibits any type of harassment based on the age of the employee, specifically for individuals who are 40 years of age or older. This is built to include offensive statements or comments about the individual’s age. However, this type of conduct has to be a part of the work place becoming a “hostile work environment” before the law applies. It can be applied to any supervisor or a co-worker. If a client or customer makes derogatory remarks the company can be held liable, if the employer does not at least attempt to make reasonable effort to prevent the harassment. The law also states that policies cannot be put in place that have a negative impact on workers aged 40 or above.
Many applicants believe they have been denied employment at Texas Roadhouse based solely on their age. These instances are also cited at various locations of the restaurant chain, and are not isolated to only a single location. The EEOC tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement according to its conciliation process. The intent is to obtain monetary amounts for those applicants who were not hired based on their age. The second part of the EEOC’s case is to help the restaurant change its hiring policies and training so that age discrimination does not occur in future hiring practices.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) requires that businesses make no distinction among employee’s pay based on their ages. They cannot be paid less due to their age as long as they are performing their jobs effectively; they must be paid the same as younger counterparts. Ty Hyderally is an expert in employment law who works diligently to inform employees and employers of their rights and responsibilities concerning employment law NJ, including ADEA guidelines. Individuals can file against corporations, as can groups. However, just because the complaint arises from an affected group, is no guarantee that the courts will act on their behalf; or agree that a disparity has taken place. This is the case with Smith v. City of Jackson, Miss.
A group of police department employees which included Azel Smith sued the city of Jackson, Mississippi and their police department. The city’s police department in an attempt to make their pay scale competitive with surrounding departments gave officers raises. Officers who worked for the department for less than 5 years were given larger pay raises than employees who had over 5 years of tenure. Since many of those with more than 5 years of tenure were over the age of 40, the group sued the city alleging that the salary changes was in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The Fifth Circuit dismissed the claim because they said it was not a violation of ADEA. Upon appeal the Supreme Court upheld this dismissal. One reason for this dismissal was the particular wording of the language used in the ADEA. Another cause for the dismissal of their claim was the history of legislative rulings and statutes. The court recognized that these types of disparate impact claims can indeed be classified under the ADEA, however, the group (Smith) failed to be able to prove their claim.
The group of officers could not isolate a specific practice carried out by the department that would prove the disparities according to statistical analysis. The officers stated that the pay plan that was put in place was not as generous to older officers and therefore had an impact on the age group. The group failed to prove that the raises were made on solely on the basis of age. The city was trying to ensure that the police department offered salaries that were competitive with other communities in the area. Since the pay scale was not based at all on an employee’s age there was no act of discrimination to be found.
To prove a case of age discrimination it is very important to be able to statistically show that the disparities occurred solely based on age. The group of officers could not do this in this case and the dismissal was upheld.
This post was written by: Francine Foner, Esq.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), is intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of several protected categories, including age. owever, the LAD contains an exception which permits employers to discriminate against individuals over 70. The “over 70 exception” to the LAD provides that, “nothing herein contained shall be construed to bar an employer from refusing to accept for employment or to promote any person over 70 years of age….”
But should this exception permit employers to refuse to renew the contracts of employees based upon their being over 70? Not according to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent holding in Nini v. Mercer County Community College (2010).
Rose Nini worked for Mercer Community College continuously for twenty-six years under a series of contracts. Her last contract was not renewed and she sued the school for age discrimination. The school countered that since Nini was over 70 she was not covered by the LAD because of its “over 70 exception.” Nini lost in the lower courts, but prevailed in the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Nini majority found that the “over 70 exception” applies to initial hiring decisions, but not to contract renewals. The Nini Court reasoned that a contract renewal amounts to the same thing as a termination, and termination based upon age is prohibited by the LAD’s broad remedial purpose and strong public policy of eradicating discrimination in the workplace.
The Supreme Court also observed that it would create a loophole in the LAD’s protections by permitting employers who want to terminate their aging employees to simply put them under contract and then not renew the contract. The Nini Court further noted that it would also have the absurd result of giving greater protections to “at will” employees (i.e., those without contracts) than to contract employees.
One caveat to the Supreme Court’s holding might be the extent of the employee’s pre-existing relationship with the employer. Nini had a long-term and successful pre-existing relationship with the college, which was a significant factor in the Supreme Court’s finding in her favor. What about the over-70 employee whose relationship is only a year or less? The Nini Court failed to address whether or not the pre-existing relationship must be of any specific length or scope. Thus, chances are that employers will try to distinguish cases in which the employee has a short pre-existing relationship from the type of lengthy career that Nini had at the college. Thus, it remains to be seen whether this will be a hard and fast rule, or may be modified down the road.
I am Ty Hyderally; I am an employment law attorney in New Jersey
For years there remained a discrepancy over the amount of pay for men versus women. When performing the same job responsibilities and skill women were paid far less. In February 1963 Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz sent submitted a letter and a bill to the Speaker of the House of Representatives recommending legislation for “equal pay.” Initially, Congress rejected the bill but after some rewording the bill passed. The wording was changed from “equal pay to comparable work” to “equal pay for equal work.” The new wording indicates that there should be no pay discrepancy for those who perform identical job skills, regardless of whether they are male or female.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal for employers to pay workers varying rates for the same job performance based on the employee’s gender. The goal of this legislation is to abolish pay discrepancies between men and women for the same job positions, responsibilities and skills.
These discrepancies were deemed to be difficult on the economy. They caused many labor disputes as well was contributed to unequal methods of competition. Wages were depressed and it caused a lowering of the overall standard of living.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) (P.L. No. 88-38, 77 Stat. 56, 59) protects workers from discrimination on the basis of their gender. Employers are prohibited from paying varied wages between the genders for the same job. To the layman, it means that women and men who do exactly the same job and skill levels cannot be paid at different rates of pay. They must be paid based solely on their capabilities to do the specific job as well as carry out all the required responsibilities. An individual cannot be compensated any less in wages or other amenities simply because they are female or male; rather it states equal pay for equal work.
The Federal law that protects individuals who are 40 years old or older is called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA. The intent of the age discrimination law is to protect employers from making decisions about an employee based solely on age. It is illegal for a business to refuse to hire a person just because they are aged 40 or above. Also, it is an illegal practice to fire an older person and then hire a younger person to fill the same position.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection act of 1990 added an amendment to the ADEA that prohibits business owners from denying benefits to its older employees. These two laws are in place specifically to protect older workers from being discriminated against based on age.
The laws dealing with age discrimination in the workplace only apply to businesses who hire more than 20 employees. Independent contractors are not bound by these laws. However, to protect older workers, some states may have other types of discrimination laws in place. Or there may be some added protection against age discrimination under other state employment guidelines.
Discriminatory practices that are prohibited by the law include hiring and firing as well as any types of transfers, promotions or layoffs. A person cannot receive more or less compensation based on age, nor can a business alter fringe benefits because of an employee’s age. But they also make it illegal to harass someone in regards to age.
Businesses are offered some exemptions from these laws. For instance, a company may offer early retirement to older workers as long as it will not affect their benefits and as long as it is purely voluntary. An early retirement cannot be forced and it cannot reduce the worker’s benefits as their age increases.
A few jobs in which an age restriction clause is allowed are exempt. These are typically jobs which deal with public safety such as fire or police workers. Some companies may carry this restriction for top level executives. And a company is allowed to use a seniority system. However, if utilizing a seniority system it must be based on years of employment not based solely on age.
Businesses are encouraged to find solutions for the problems that arise from the impacts that age can have on employment. Younger and older workers are assured that they each have equal access to benefits and pay. Health care and pension cannot be manipulated to the advantage of the business just because a worker is aging. There must be fair treatment across the board.
There are many types of workplace discrimination. However, unless the discrimination is against a protected category discrimination itself is not illegal. An employer firing a person does not constitute a form of actionable discrimination unless it is based on a “protected category.” These specific categories are defined in discrimination laws which are in place to protect the employee from such actions. If the specific category is not written out in the statutes the employee is not protected by any type of discrimination law. Basically there are two forms of discrimination as defined by law, disparate treatment or disparate impact. Disparate treatment is simply treating an individual differently based on a condition such as gender or race. Disparate impact is where a policy excludes an individual from positions or promotions although that was not the original intent of the policy; simply the result of the policy.
Racial discrimination is probably one of the most common among law suits. Regulations by Federal and State laws make it illegal to discriminate according to the “terms or conditions of employment” on the basis of an individual’s skin color or race. Racial discrimination can also mean associations with a particular race are prohibited. For example, if an employer fired a white employee simply because he had black friends or was dating a woman of another race it is classified as workplace discrimination.
The ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, is a Federal law that states the illegality of employers discriminating against an individual on the basis of a disability. An individual who is qualified and capable of completing a job cannot be denied position, promotion, compensation or training based on a disability. The stipulation here is that the individual must be physically able to complete the job or else there is no basis of discrimination which implies that the individual was denied a basic right of employment because of the disability.
Age discrimination in the workplace is a common practice. It has more loopholes that some of the other types of discriminations. Basically anyone over 40 is protected by Federal laws pertaining to age discrimination. It is illegal to simply replace an older person with a younger worker. However, it is not illegal to offer “golden handshakes” to older employees who will agree to early retirements.
Gender discrimination is rampant in the workplace as well. It is illegal to treat employees differently simply because of their gender. It goes beyond just whether or not a person is hired based on gender. Sex discrimination is pertaining to any aspect of employment such as: pay scale, title, position, vacations or hours. The Equal Pay Act states that an employer cannot pay differing wages for similar positions based on gender.
There are many forms of bias and prejudice in the workplace. Discrimination law helps to protect individuals from improper treatment and unjust discrimination.