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Defenses Your Employer May Raise to Your Age Discrimination Claim If You Were Wrongfully Terminated

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The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Texas Labor Code protect employees from age discrimination in termination or layoff decisions. Individuals who are 40 years old or older are protected under these laws. Unfortunately, some employers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area continue to discriminate unlawfully against older workers. If you are 40 years old or older and were discharged from your employment, you may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful discharge case. 
 
Age discrimination occurs in two different ways:  1) disparate treatment (where the decision is intentionally made, in whole or in part, on the basis of age; or 2) disparate impact (where a decision – though age neutral on its face – nevertheless has a significant adverse effect on employees over 40 because of their age(s). When filing either type of age discrimination claim, it is important to understand your legal rights and the defenses your employer may raise.

Common Defenses in Age Discrimination in Employment Cases

There are a number of defenses employers use to fight against an age discrimination claim, but just because they raise them does not mean any of the defenses are valid. Understanding the employer’s potential arguments can help you and your experienced employment law attorney win your case. Common defenses used in these cases include:
 
Good cause. One common defense employers raise is that the employee’s termination was based on the person’s job performance or other factors that justified the employee’s discharge.
 
Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). A business using this argument is claiming that the nature of a particular job requires a qualification that the older worker does not have or no longer has. For example, some airlines have been allowed to raise this defense in discharging older pilots because they were able to show that these individuals were not as safe as younger pilots.
 
Reasonable factor other than age. In an age discrimination case based on disparate impact, an employer can terminate, demote or otherwise negatively impact the job ofan older worker if the employer can show that their decision was based on a reasonable factor other than age, such as job performance, qualifications for the position that may have changed over time, or, in certain situations, cost.
 
Business necessity. In a disparate treatment case, a company using a business necessity defense claims that the termination of older individuals was required for their business operations, such as the need for a reduction in workforce to cut costs.
 
Seniority system or benefit plan. If an employer can establish that a termination was required by a bona fide seniority system, employee benefit plan, or early retirement plan, this may be a valid defense to a wrongful termination claim based on age discrimination.
 
Do you suspect that you were fired because of your age, or do you suspect that a decision by your employer, even though it was age-neutral on its face, caused you to be terminated because of that decision affected you based on your age?

If you worked in the Dallas, Fort Worth, or Mid-Cities areas, attorney Walt Taylor is here to advise you of your legal rights, pursue your claim for compensation, and anticipate the defenses that your former employer may raise. To discuss your situation, call our office or fill out an online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Walter L. Taylor
Employment & Medical Peer Review Lawyer helping workers, doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists in Texas.
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