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Highest court decides age-related employment law interpretation

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2020 | Workplace Discrimination

There are many forms of workplace discrimination that Indiana employees might face. Some incidents might be assessed in the context of relatively new terms considered jokes but are deemed discriminatory. Often, these interpretations are decided by the United States Supreme Court.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court stated that federal employees might be eligible for compensation for age discrimination regardless of whether it was the only reason they faced action at work. The case leading to this determination involved a pharmacist for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The phrase “OK, boomer” was used in the decision as the Chief Justice questioned whether it would be categorized as violating the law based on a person’s age.

Eight of the nine justices decided that remedies were available based on the law protecting workers against age discrimination. This gave the pharmacist the right to recover compensation due to the hostile work environment at her place of employment. Still, a key part of being granted relief hinges on proving that age was a fundamental issue. The lawsuit stemmed from the pharmacist claiming decisions that negatively impacted her work, her pay and her chances at advancement violated employment law. The Chief Justice used the term “OK, boomer” to ask the pharmacist’s legal representative whether using the term is actionable. The attorney answered in the affirmative as the comment could be construed as labeling the person as older and therefore unable to adapt to today’s job market.

The decision allows federal employees to use 1967’s Age Discrimination in Employment Act to file a claim. Workplace discrimination is a violation of employment law. Workers who are confronted by this type of mistreatment should be aware of how they have been harmed by this type of discrimination and understand when it reaches the level of severity where it warrants a legal filing. If it was due to age, race, gender, disability or for another protected reason, it might justify compensation. Legal advice from a firm experienced in employment law may help in assessing the situation and in pursuing a case.


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