Older New Jersey employees who are concerned about workplace age discrimination should be aware of a proposed law that would make it easier to pursue monetary damages in the event of wrongful termination or demotion. POWADA, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, is a proposed law that seeks to make it less complicated to show that an employer committed age discrimination. Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 that sided heavily with employers, it has been more difficult for victims of age discrimination to successfully seek damages.
The Supreme Court's decision changed the law so that an employee who was discriminated against has to show that age was the only reason why they were fired or demoted. It is relatively easy for an employer to argue that they would have fired the employee anyway. Under POWADA, employers would not be able to easily argue their way out of a wrongful termination suit.
Another benefit POWADA would have for aged employees is that employers would be much less likely to unfairly fire them out of concern that they may be taken to court for age discrimination. Largely because of the absence of POWADA, 56% of senior workers are demoted or fired before they can retire, according to an Urban Institute study. Just one in 10 of those affected workers will make the same amount at a new job.
A worker who has been wrongfully terminated due to workplace discrimination may want to obtain legal representation. Even though POWADA is not in effect yet, an attorney may still be able to prove that the employer participated in age discrimination.