The Four Essential Elements of a Successful Age Discrimination Claim in New York, and How to Make Your Case Satisfies All of Them

Each successful employment discrimination lawsuit outcome has certain things in common with all other successful case results. One of the most fundamental things all of these have in common is a well-written complaint that does a good job clearly conveying the facts and that plainly and correctly lays out the applicable law. Each of us has certain things that we’re good at based on professional expertise. If you’re not an attorney, chances are writing a well-pled civil complaint isn’t one of them. Given how critical this piece is to your overall success, it is well worth your while to have an experienced New York workplace discrimination lawyer on your side from the very start.

A “well-written complaint” does certain things highly effectively. One of those things is language that clearly sets out the required elements of your claim and how the facts you alleged meet each of those.

An age discrimination complaint filed by a New York City doctor is a good example of this, as evidenced by the doctor’s success in defeating his former employer’s request for a dismissal of the lawsuit.

The doctor began working for the employer in 1987. Thirty-two years later, in April 2019, he went into a meeting where he was told he was terminated, effective immediately. The doctor filed a lawsuit claiming age discrimination in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.

State law in New York requires demonstrating four things to have a valid age discrimination claim. One, you have to be a member of a protected class. Two, you have to show that you were actually or constructively discharged. Three, you have to demonstrate that you were qualified for the position in which you were working and, four, that your firing “occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination.”

The doctor pled each of these things and supported each one sufficiently, according to the court. Neither side disputed that the doctor was in his early 60s and, based on his age, was a member of a protected age class. Additionally, neither side disputed that the employer fired the doctor on April 19, 2019, constituting an actual discharge.

As for qualifications, neither side questioned that the doctor had the required licenses, training, and experience to hold the job he had. The doctor’s evidence went well beyond that, including an extensive list of “commendation letters from patients and their families” numbering in the hundreds, his many “awards from members of the New York City Council, March of Dimes, and numerous insurance companies during his decades-long career” with the employer, and numerous alleged instances where he received praise from his supervisor. Furthermore, the doctor presented a professional record free of malpractice or disciplinary actions.

The fourth factor is a critical one, and often the most strenuously contested. To meet this element, the doctor laid out clear allegations that his firing was “part of a pattern… of terminating older doctors and staff and replacing them with substantially younger employees.”

The Importance of Age-Biased Comments and Jokes to Your Discrimination Claim

Also, when you are pleading proof in support of circumstances “giving rise to an inference of age discrimination,” disparaging comments about your age can be powerfully helpful pieces of evidence. Whether it is a “you’re no spring chicken” comment or an “OK Boomer” crack, these things can go a long way toward bolstering your case. In this doctor’s case, the words that furthered an inference in favor of age discrimination included alleged comments about how the doctor was “looking older now” and suggestions that the doctor “start thinking about retirement.” (Comments about appearance and allusions to retirement are two of the more common kinds of inappropriate workplace comments that often can be indicative of age discrimination.)

All of this, the judge decided, was enough to get the doctor past the dismissal phase and permit him to continue going forward with his age discrimination claim.

Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal, but older workers know that the threat still exists. If you believe you’ve been harmed at work (or even fired outright) because of your age, you may have a winning case and may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with the experienced New York age discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates who can explain your rights and help make sure you are protected. We’re here to answer your questions, educate you about the law, and advise you of the legal options you have. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and find out how we can help you.

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