COVID-19 and the related recession is having a disproportionate effect on older employees for a number of reasons. First, older Americans are at a greater risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Second, studies show that older Americans are overrepresented in jobs with increased exposure risks. And third, many older workers are in job fields, like hospitality, that are still trying to recover from the economic downturn caused by initial COVID-19 shutdowns. Moreover, these job fields continue to be disproportionately impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Here are the labor laws applicable to COVID-19 and employment discrimination of older employees.
Good Intentions Can Still Lead to Discrimination
Mix the above factors together and you have the perfect storm for potential age-related employment discrimination. This could include a wide range of employer intentions from wanting to protect older workers to simply viewing them as more expensive employees and using COVID-19 as an excuse to get rid of them. Regardless of the reason, firing or not rehiring an employee over 40 because of their age runs afoul of the ADEA. The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) prohibits covered employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of age.
Lawsuits Surely to Follow
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among people age 65 and older quadrupled between March and April 2020 from 3.7% to 15.6%. With continued layoffs and furloughs, labor and employment lawyers on both sides agree that age-related discrimination lawsuits will likely follow. Indeed, it appears that many of these new age-related discrimination cases are currently being investigated and filed as charges or complaints on a pre-lawsuit basis with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state civil rights agencies.
Questions about COVID-19 and Employment Discrimination of Older Employees
The employment lawyers in Dallas at Rogge Dunn Group have experience litigating issues related to COVID-19 and employment discrimination. We have the knowledge needed to successfully prevent and/or resolve employment disputes. If you have additional questions about COVID-related employment issues including age discrimination contact us here.