Age discrimination a growing threat: What you need to know.

Age discrimination is a problem throughout the country, including here in Pennsylvania.

Choosing not to hire or to terminate employment based on advanced age is not just rude, it is illegal. This type of act likely qualifies as age discrimination and is often illegal under both state and federal laws. Unfortunately, many reports are finding that age discrimination is a common occurrence throughout the country.

A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports these findings. According to the report, long-term unemployment increases with age. The most recent data from 2014 found that 22.1 percent of those under the age of 25 who were unemployed had attempted to find employment for 27 weeks or longer compared with 44.6 percent of those at or above the age of 55. Interestingly, the rates are similar regardless of education level. For example, those who attained less than a high school diploma had an unemployment level of 38.3 percent while those who had a bachelor's degree or higher were at 37.7 percent. This comparison provides additional support to the hardship those who are over the age of 55 can face in the work environment. If the unemployment trend is tied to a failure to hire based on one's advanced age, discrimination may be present.

Protections are available

Federally, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, provides protections against discrimination for those ages 40 or over. Discriminatory practices can occur in the hiring, firing, promoting, training or offering of fringe benefits as well as any other term or condition of employment. It is also illegal to harass an employee based on his or her age. This includes offensive remarks about age that are frequent and severe enough to create a hostile working environment. This law applies to all employers with 20 or more workers including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations.

In Pennsylvania, state law also provides protection for everyone at or over the age of 40 but extends to cover businesses that employ four or more workers. However, it does not cover law enforcement agencies, federal agencies and certain other entities.

Remedies are available

Age discrimination is a problem throughout the country, including here in Pennsylvania. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report noted above also found rates vary by state, with Pennsylvania having a rate of 31.9 percent. Those who believe they are the victim of these practices may qualify for legal remedies including back wages and reinstatement of a position. Contact an experienced age discrimination or wrongful termination attorney to discuss your options.

Keywords: discrimination age discrimination