Were you terminated or otherwise treated unfairly at your job due to your age? In New Jersey, discriminating against workers because they are too young or too old is illegal. Federal laws, in addition to the New Jersey law Against Discrimination (LAD), allow you to pursue legal action if your rights have been violated. But what evidence do you need to show to prove your case? Our NJ age discrimination lawyers explain the basics of filing a valid claim in New Jersey.
Age discrimination and your prima facie case
Prima facie refers to the bare minimum a plaintiff (you) must present in a lawsuit. Generally, in civil law, it refers to the presentation of sufficient evidence to support your legal claim. In other words, you need to show the court enough proof that you actually grounds for a lawsuit.
Since age discrimination is difficult to prove via direct evidence, most courts allow plaintiffs to rely on a burden shifting method of proof. In short, you can present a prima facie case and then the burden of proof shifts to the employer to show that you were not discriminated against.
Prima Facie Evidence
In an age discrimination lawsuit, your prima facie case and prima facie evidence should prove:
- you belong to a protected class;
- you were fired, demoted or not promoted to a job for which you were qualified and for which the employer was seeking applicants;
- you were rejected for the position despite your qualifications;
- the position remained open after your rejection and the employer continued to seek applications from other people with similar qualifications to the plaintiff, or hired someone younger or older than you
According to federal law, being a member of a “protected class” under age discrimination laws means being over the age of 40. However, under New Jersey LAD statutes, you can be almost any age — however, you may not have a valid claim if you are under 18 or over the age of 70.
Examples of evidence you might use
The hardest part of making your case is proving that age was in factor in your employer’s (or potential employer’s) employment decision. In a more straight-forward case, you would submit direct evidence but in an age discrimination case, you might need to rely on indirect evidence.
How exactly do you convince a court that your claim is valid? Here’s some documentation and testimony you might need:
- Job performance records
- Human Resources files
- Witness testimony
- Statistics showing either younger or older employees had been hired or received certain benefits
Our NJ employment law lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. understand filing a lawsuit is overwhelming and confusing. Let us handle everything. Call today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.