Do you think you've been a victim of age discrimination at your workplace, as the following AOL Jobs reader does?
The union negotiated a severance package, one week's pay for each year served, the company will continue to pay benefits for three months and they will not contest unemployment benefits. I have been informed by my department head they may offer a lesser-paying position if I am not among those chosen. Should I be permitted to choose between a lesser-paying job and the severance package?
Older employees, along with the disabled and pregnant employees, are the most targeted employees in layoffs. There seems to be an assumption that the “old guys” will be retiring soon anyhow, so it doesn't matter. It does. Targeting older employees is illegal.
- Comments: If your boss makes comments about age, that's direct evidence of age discrimination. Referring to older employees as “geezer,” “old man” or “pops” may indicate age discrimination. It can be more subtle. Saying the company wants a “young image,” asking questions about your energy level or saying you may not be able to keep up with the new changes can all be evidence of age discrimination.
- Different treatment: If you are selected as one of the employees to be laid off but younger, less-qualified employees are kept on, that is also evidence of age discrimination. Let's say the position requires a certification. You have it, but the younger employee is working to get it. You're more qualified. Seniority can also be a measure of your qualifications. If you've been in the position for 20 years with all good reviews and the younger employee has only held the job for a year, that's a good indication that age discrimination is occurring.
- Different options: If you are told you have to take the severance, where younger employees are given the option of stepping down to a lower-paying position, then that could also be age discrimination.
- Disparate discipline: Since the company is looking at disciplinary history, if you are suddenly targeted for discipline for picky things that younger employees also do and aren't disciplined for, that is another sign that you are being targeted due to age.
On the issue of stepping down versus taking the severance package, that's a decision you need to weigh carefully.
If your retirement benefit (assuming you work for the rare company that still has one) is measured by your last year or several years' pay, you may want to go for the severance. On the other hand, if you aren't vested or can't retire yet and only have a few years left, stepping down may be the best option. This might be a good time to meet with your accountant or a financial planner to discuss the best options for you.
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
- Are Employers Guilty of Blatant Age Discrimination?
- What It Takes to Win an Age Discrimination Suit
- How Women Job Seekers Can Beat Age Discrimination
- How Big a Boost Do Older Workers Give the U.S. Economy?
Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,
"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."
Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. What story will you help make possible?
This article is reprinted with permission from AOL.com. © 2013 AOL.com. All Rights Reserved.