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Posted On: March 16, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Age Discrimination Claims Highest In History According To The EEOC

Discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") last year rose to the highest in the agency’s 44-year history. Many believe this is a result of last years Supreme Court ruling that changed the way complaints may be filed. The EEOC said 95,402 claims were filed during 2008 which represented a 15 percent increase from 2007. Of the EEOC's total claims more than 25 percent contained an allegation of age discrimination while more than 34 percent included complaints of retaliation.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that workers need not file a formal complaint with the EEOC before suing an employer for age discrimination. The EEOC said it recovered $376 million for claimants last year as it filed 290 new lawsuits and resolved 339 suits and 81,081 non-litigation claims.

“Older workers generally cost more,” consequently, they’ve become job-cut targets, said the lawyer, a principal of Hannafan & Hannafan Ltd. “The companies are probably discriminating.”

Filing a discrimination claim can be a job-defense tactic, Sternberg, a partner at St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn LLP, said. “The law doesn’t have a fairness requirement, one has to translate that feeling of unfairness to unfairness based on a protected characteristic,” such as age reports bloomberg.com

Many times an age discrimination case also will creat a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, citizenship status, marital status, or personal appearance.

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