Discrimination in the workplace in Dallas, TX can take many forms; an employee can claim discrimination based upon his race, religion, sex, disability, and even his age. Not all Texas business owners are bound by age discrimination laws, but many are, and age discrimination issues can be tricky to navigate. In Texas, age discrimination is governed by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21 (which defers to the ADEA generally on substantive law). Here are the main points business owners should know.
Discrimination in the Workplace in Dallas TX: Elements of Age Discrimination
When the ADEA Applies
The ADEA applies only to businesses with 20 or more employees. However, smaller businesses should still be aware of the ADEA’s effect on employers, just in case an employee finds a creative way to pull his or her employer under the ADEA umbrella.
The ADEA does not apply to independent contractors. There is also a limited exception for employees over the age of 65 who have spent at least the last two years in a “policy-making position” and who are entitled to annual retirement benefits. If a business has an employee of retirement age, then, who held a position of significant authority for the past two years or more, he or she may not be protected by the ADEA. Business owners unsure about whether an employee falls under one of these exceptions should talk to an experienced business and employment attorney.
What the ADEA Says
The ADEA protects employees over the age of 40 from workplace discrimination based upon their age. Employees 39 and younger are not protected.
An employer may not make any adverse employment decision or mistreat an employee on the basis of his being aged 40 or older. Adverse employment decisions based on age include doing any of the following because an employee is 40 years old or older:
- Cutting the pay
- Refusing to hire
- Denying a promotion
An employer also must look out for its own policies that may seem neutral, but that may have what is called a “disparate impact” upon older employees. That is, the policy does not on its face discriminate based upon age, but in practice, it will affect older workers more than younger workers. For example, initiating a policy that requires all workers to be free of any medications may have a disparate impact upon employees over 40.
What Employers Can Do
Employers do have defenses to age discrimination claims available to them. Employers should keep detailed records on employees and their actions and behavior so that if an adverse employment action becomes necessary, the employer can show it was for a reason other than the employee’s age. Further, if the business is one in which an older person might be in more danger because of physical demands, an employer can take steps to prove that its exclusion of older employees is based upon a bona fide occupational qualification (although these are difficult to prove). Employers should carefully craft their policies and procedures so that they are not discriminatory toward older workers.
Call Simon | Paschal PLLC for Help Avoiding Problems with Discrimination in the Workplace in Dallas, TX
Avoid a lawsuit involving discrimination in the workplace. Contact Dallas, TX attorneys at Simon | Paschal PLLC. They have significant experience assisting business owners with employee-related matters. Call (972) 893-9340 to schedule a consultation.
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