As a recent settlement of a class action brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission exemplifies, employers often engage in age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), when laying off employees. This is so even though older employees typically have more experience and are more productive than the younger employees. Instead of relying on the immeasurable experience of the older employees, many employers decide that they can cut costs quickly by laying off the older employees, who typically have larger salaries. The ADEA, which protects employees who are 40 years old and older, and other federal laws require employers to take specific steps that are designed to protect older employers during a reduction in force, including providing information regarding the ages and positions of all employees included in the lay off. Because lay offs occur more regularly during difficult economic times, when companies are trying to reduce their costs, more American workers are likely to face the prospect of being laid off in the upcoming year. Because many employers violate the ADEA in implementing a reduction in force, it is important that employees who are laid off consult an attorney to preserve and protect their rights.
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