Age-discrimination claims are on the rise. The number of age-based charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC increased by 29% in 2008, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, More Workers Cite Age Bias After Layoffs. The rise is larger than the overall increase in charge filings, which the EEOC reported as 15% over 2007. This news won’t come as much of a surprise to most employment law attorneys, though. We’ve seen a steep increase in charge filings, on the state and federal levels, since the summer of 2008, with a seemingly record-high numbers of charge filed in the Delaware Department of Labor during the months of September and October. But why have age claims, in particular, been the type subject to the sharpest increase?
For one, there are more older workers in the workforce today than ever before. We’re living longer. And we Traditionalists and Silents have resisted retirement, remaining active members of the workforce. Statistically, if there are more people over 40, then it follows that there will be more age claims.
Layoffs are another contributing factor. When layoffs happen, employees with the highest salaries are common targets. And salary level is often commensurate with years of service. And, as you may have guessed by now, years of service with a particular employer is often commensurate with years of total employment.