Age discrimination is a creeping disease which has reached epidemic proportions.
Employers, with increasing intensity, are attempting to remove older employees
from their work force and the excuses they offer for the termination of
these older employees are, in many instances, cruel.
The law does not require a "smoking gun" to confirm
age discrimination in the workplace. The burden an employee has in order to establish age
discrimination, as well as any other form of employment discrimination,
is not as stringent as the burden of proof required in other types of
cases. Our courts have frequently held that employment discrimination
can be established with circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence
is less than direct evidence, which includes witnesses or written proof.
Circumstantial evidence involves making reasonable inferences based on
the proof available.
There will never be a memorandum written by management saying, "let's
get rid of the older people." However, there will likely be ample
circumstantial evidence. One example would be if a company were to fire
12 people over the age of 40 and replace them with 12 people younger than
40 years of age. It is at that point one might make a reasonable inference,
based on the circumstantial proof available, that this particular company
had a hostility toward older employees and may be engaging in the practice
of age discrimination. In the field of
employment law, circumstantial evidence can be very powerful in protecting the rights
of employees in the workplace.