Nashville Legal Blog

Age discrimination commonplace and growing say EEOC and AARP

People in Tennessee workplaces might notice changes in how they are treated as they age. A survey from the American Association for Retired Persons and data collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicate that age discrimination is commonplace. It results in problems like harassment and discriminatory firings.

Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act established rights for older workers in 1967, research conducted by the AARP revealed that only 3 percent of people mistreated at work because of their age file official complaints with a government agency or their employers.

Emotional distress and workplace discrimination

People in Tennessee who face sexual harassment or workplace discrimination can suffer emotional damages as well as the financial losses that come from an unjust dismissal or refusal of a promotion or job opportunity. Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, victims of these types of injustice in the workplace may be able to recover compensatory damages for their emotional distress suffered as a result.

The term "emotional distress" may seem quite broad, and it can apply to a range of damaging consequences of workplace discrimination and harassment. These include a loss of enjoyment of life, harm to a person's reputation, difficult relationships with family and friends, inability to sleep and the development of diagnosed psychiatric conditions like depression or generalized anxiety disorder. While it is possible to recover for emotional distress in these cases, it is necessary for the victim to show that it was the employer's wrongdoing that led to the distress, rather than other, external events happening during the same time.

Ways to combat age discrimination at work

According to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, age discrimination is still occurring despite the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The law prevents employers in Tennessee and throughout the country from discriminating based on age against those who are 40 or older. Acts that could be considered discriminatory include mandatory retirement policies, improper termination and improper hiring practices. In addition to EEOC enforcement, 49 states have their own law to protect against age discrimination at work.

The EEOC report mentions that the workforce in the United States is both getting larger and getting older. Therefore, enforcement of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act will become more important in coming years. It is also worth noting that more complaints are being raised by women and employees of color. The EEOC says that there are several ways in which employers can limit the impact of age discrimination within their own companies.

Workplace bullying could be illegal discrimination

Workers in Tennessee who face bullying or intimidation on the job may wonder what kind of action they can take to put an end to the mistreatment on the job. In some cases, affected workers may try to remain silent, hoping that a lack of reaction will cause the bullies to lose interest or that another person will notice the issue and step in. In other cases, workers may attempt to file a complaint, but they can be concerned about the threat of retaliation and further abuse.

However, depending on the motivation behind the workplace bullying and mistreatment, the behavior may be not only unethical but illegal. Discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, disability and other protected characteristics is prohibited under the law, and a company has a responsibility to put an end to workplace harassment. While simple bullying in the workplace may not be illegal, this is not the case when protected criteria are involved. In these cases, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint can be an important part of seeking justice for discrimination on the job.

Summer is the most dangerous time to be out on the road

Much of Tennessee is immune from the hard winters that some of the country receives. While snow does fall, drivers here won't have to worry about a foot of standing snow on the road during the cold months. Still, inclement weather, including ice and snow on the roads, can certainly lead to crashes in Tennessee and other states. Believe it or not, however, the winter isn't the most dangerous time to be on the road.

The summer, specifically July 3rd and 4th, are the most dangerous days on the road all year. There are many factors that contribute to this risk, but awareness of the extra danger on these days can help keep you and your loved ones safe when driving or riding in motor vehicles this summer.

Every motor vehicle crash carries a risk of brain injuries

One reason why people who drive must be licensed is to ensure that they are properly educated about safety behind the wheel. Small mistakes can prove deadly when you're in control of a heavy machine traveling around high speeds. Understanding and following traffic laws could save your life one day.

However, you can't control how others drive. Too many people choose to drive after drinking or taking drugs. Others drive when they know they're exhausted or barely awake, while still more insist on interacting with their cellphones while driving. All it takes is a few seconds to get into an accident which could cause permanent injuries to yourself or others.

Minority women face racial and gender discrimination at work

Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act became law in the United States, employers in Tennessee have had a legal obligation to pay men and women the same amount of money for the same work. Reality has fallen far short of that goal. Women persistently earn lower pay than their male counterparts for the same jobs do, and the pay gap is even higher for African American, Latina and Native American women. The general counsel for the National Women's Law Center attributed the lower pay for minority women to the people running companies. They lack awareness of the issue and fail to enforce employment laws meant to counteract discrimination.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has publicly acknowledged that race exacerbates gender discrimination for women. She said that companies might think that their strategies for hiring more women will include more minority women, but it does not work out that way. The technology sector has a poor record of hiring minority women. Less than 10 percent of the employees at Apple, Google, Pinterest or Lyft are minority women.

Workplaces evolving on their views of transgender workers

Members of Tennessee's transgender community could face discrimination in the working world. According to a 2015 study from the National Center for Transgender Identity, 25 percent of respondents said that being transgender caused problems at work. Specifically, those respondents said that they were denied a promotion or fired because of their orientation. To help transgender individuals find work, a job fair has been held by MetroHealth hospital in Cleveland.

While the event hosted by MetroHealth was open to anyone, it was promoted as an event for trans individuals. Companies such as Starbucks and Progressive Insurance were there to recruit candidates. A human resources employee from one company said that it was looking to find a more diverse pool of job applicants. She said that going to events such as this one helps them achieve that goal.

Veterans with certain discharge statuses may face discrimination

Transitioning from a military to civilian career may be challenging for any veteran. However, when a service member was discharged for committing a minor offense, it's often even more difficult for him or her to secure a good job. Employers in Tennessee sometimes use veteran status as a way to filter applicants for open positions. When the job requires that veterans have been honorably discharged, certain former service members might be unfairly disqualified due to no fault of their own.

In the four years between 2011 and 2015, 13,000 service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury received other than honorable discharges. A recent report showed that these service members were disproportionately black, Latino, disabled or gay. Thousands of men and women were discharged simply because of their sexual orientation. Unless they leave the military with an honorable discharge, veterans lose their GI bill and other benefits that could help them adjust to civilian life.

National Park Service official investigated for crude conduct

The National Park Service manages 84 million acres in the United States, including locations in Tennessee. The service functions within the Department of the Interior, led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has publicly pledged to take strong action against sexual harassers within federal workplaces under his control. A man currently holding the highest position at the NPS due to no one being nominated to lead the agency has fallen under investigation after an anonymous complaint about his behavior.

The Office of the Inspector General has yet to publish its conclusions about the deputy director's conduct, but he has issued an apology via a staff-wide email. He said that he would hold himself to a high standard as a leader. He promised to set a better example and promote a respectful workplace.

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