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Age Discrimination in the Era of COVID-19

Published on Oct 29, 2020 at 1:43 pm in Employment Law.

Older person in suit

Everyone deserves equal treatment. When someone is treated poorly or differently because they are older, then that is considered age discrimination. Discrimination based on age, race, sex, and many other factors is against the law. In the time of COVID-19, employers are taking extra precautions in their businesses, but it’s important that they don’t discriminate against older employees.

At McMath Woods, P.A., we know how difficult it can be to emotionally deal with an act of discrimination in your workplace, but you shouldn’t have to go through this alone. Our employment lawyers will fight to defend your rights and hold your employer accountable for their actions.

COVID-19 and the Workplace

Anti-discrimination laws in the workplace typically restrict employers from asking specifics about illnesses and symptoms of their employees, but in a global pandemic, those symptoms become a larger problem if they expose other workers or customers to the pandemic virus. Because of this, employers have some leeway when it comes to screening their employees for illness.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are allowed to ask their employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus, but they cannot disclose that information to anyone else and must keep it confidential. They also must limit their screening questions to only include symptoms of the virus as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While employers are allowed to screen all employees for COVID-19 before returning to work, it could be discriminatory if they single out any employee and ask if they have symptoms. However, if the employer has reason to believe that the employee has been exposed to or contracted the virus, then they could have grounds to single out an employee.

Where Age Discrimination Could Come In

When it comes to hiring in the era of COVID-19, employers might consider pushing back a new-hire’s start date if they are in the vulnerable population, or 65 years of age or older. However, they can’t do this. The EEOC states that an employer cannot push back the start date of a hire who is over 65 years old, and they cannot withdraw their employment offer on that basis. They can suggest teleworking to keep the employee safe if need be.

Older employees during this time may also require extra accommodations. Much like employees with pre-existing physical and mental health conditions, older employees could be more susceptible to the stress and hardship presented by the pandemic and could need new or more accommodations to work efficiently. For example, an older employee could request teleworking so that they are not exposed to other people every day.

The employer would be able to ask questions about the request and possibly ask for medical documentation, but overall should accommodate the worker.

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees are trying their best to work together to keep each other safe. With discrimination laws and a virus to think about, things can easily get complicated. If you think discrimination laws were broken in regard to how your employer handled your employment and age during the pandemic, you could use the help of an employment attorney.

McMath Woods, P.A. Is Here to Help

Employment law can be complicated. When your pay is on the line, you might be feeling stressed and confused about how you were treated by an employer and wondering how you can hold them responsible for their actions. With the help of an employment lawyer form McMath Woods, P.A. in Little Rock, Arkansas, you can feel confident that your claim is in good hands.

One of our lawyers will guide you through the entire legal process and ensure that you are taken care of every step of the way. If you think you might have a claim against your employer for discrimination, reach out to our office today.

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