Age Discrimination and Covid-19: What Are the Rights of Older Employees?

There is no question that age discrimination has long been an issue in the U.S. workforce, and as COVID-19 has changed the way the workplace works, many are wondering how these changes will affect older employees. Keep reading to learn the facts, and then contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 if you need a free legal consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

It is True That Older Adults Are at Higher Risk of Not Surviving COVID-19

First, let us get the obvious out of the way. Yes, it is much more likely that an older worker will die of COVID compared to a younger worker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) have determined that four out of five COVID deaths occur amongst adults over the age of 65.

As a result of that statistic, an employer who needs to fire or lay off employees due to a loss of business might decide that older employees are a bigger risk and fire them first. This is not legal.

There Are Many Ways That Older Workers Can Be Discriminated Against

While being fired or laid off due to their age might be the most drastic thing that can happen, it is far from the worst. For example, if an older worker is moved from the front office they usually work in, to the back, just to prevent them from being in contact with the general population, this can be an issue if their job duties are changed significantly.

Other examples including requiring older employees to wear PPE but not requiring the same of younger workers, or furloughing only older workers. This is all unfair, no matter what the motivation of the employer, and it might even be illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

What the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 Says

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their age – but only for employees that are at least 40 years old. Discrimination is against the law when it comes to hiring, harassing, firing, and compensating employees.

Likewise, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 protects older workers from having their benefits or job duties affected by their age. Even if the policy applies to people of all ages, if it affects older workers more than younger workers, then it can be considered illegal.

If you believe that you might have been the victim of age discrimination, whether due to COVID or another reason, we urge you to consider your legal options. Contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 now to request a free consultation.