Hostile Work Environment | Age Discrimination

You may be a victim of age discrimination if you have been harassed at work about your age. Employees and applicants age forty and older may be the victim of age discrimination if an employer treats you unfavorably on the basis of your age. Federal and Colorado employment law prohibit this form of employment discrimination. Employees and applicants less than forty years of age may suffer age discrimination but these laws do not prohibit the employer from that conduct.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act – Federal Law

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 621 et seq) is a federal employment law prohibiting age discrimination against employees and applications age forty and older. It does not protect younger workers and applicants from age-based discriminatory acts by the employer. The ADEA prohibits discrimination including:

  • Harassing employees on the basis of age;
  • Firing or demoting employees because of their age;
  • Not hiring or denying promotions to employees due to age;
  • Applying age stereotypes to make employment decisions;
  • Giving favorable assignments or job titles to younger employees.

Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act – Colorado law

Colorado state law also prohibits age discrimination in employment. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) shares similar age discrimination prohibitions as the ADEA. A key difference is that the ADEA only applies to employers with fifteen or more employers while CADA applies to all Colorado employers. Often an employment discrimination lawsuit involving the ADEA will include CADA claims for age discrimination.

Hostile work environment claims in Colorado

A hostile work environment claim arises when an employee suffers harassment in the workplace related to the employee’s age. The harassment may occur from the behavior of coworkers, supervisors, owners, customers, outside business vendors, or clients. The age of the harasser is irrelevant to an age discrimination claim. The harassing individuals may even be older than the victim. The hostile work environment claim depends only upon whether the victim is within the protected age group.

Common behaviors creating a hostile work environment include:

  • Asking when you plan to retire;
  • Jokes about your age;
  • Derogatory statements, nicknames and images related to your age;
  • Giving older workers demeaning or unpleasant tasks not assigned to younger employees;
  • Referring to age-based stereotypes as reasons not to assign more prestigious tasks or promotion opportunities; and
  • Isolating the older worker from coworkers performing the same tasks.

Generally individual occurrences will not create a hostile work environment; however, repeated occurrences will create a claim for harassment. Additionally, severe single occurrences can result in a hostile work environment. Whether your workplace constitutes a hostile work environment by the legal standard under federal or Colorado employment law is not always obvious. A Denver employment lawyer can review your situation to assess whether the workplace harassment rises to the legal standard.

Colorado age discrimination attorneys

Older workers deserve the same respect as other employees. If your employer harasses you on the basis of your age and you are age forty or older then you should contact Colorado age discrimination attorneys about your situation. You do not have to suffer age-based harassment. Your employment law attorney can pursue relief from your employer including monetary damages.

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