Congress and our state legislature have passed laws designed to promote the employment of older persons based on their ability rather than their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.
In Florida, it is an unlawful employment practice for any person employing 15 or more employees to discharge, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of these factors. It is also unlawful in Florida for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual for these reasons. .In addition, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer or an employment agency to print any notice or advertisement based on these classifications.
These state laws, relating to unlawful employment practices, do not apply to any religious corporation, educational institution, or society that conditions opportunities in the area of employment to members of that organization.
Any person who is harmed by an unfair labor practice may file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations within 365 days of the alleged violation. The person who allegedly committed the violation may file an answer to the complaint. This Commission then has 180 days from the filing of the complaint to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory practice has occurred. If the Commission determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the commission must dismiss the complaint.
If the Commission determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory practice has occurred, the aggrieved person may either bring a civil action against the person named in the complaint or may request an administrative hearing.
If a civil action is brought under this section, the court may issue an order prohibiting the discriminatory practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice, including back pay. The court may also award compensatory damages, including damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and punitive damages. The judgment for punitive damages awarded under this section may not exceed $100,000. The court, however, may allow the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees. A party may also demand a trial by jury.
Likewise, if an administrative hearing is requested, the administrative law judge may issue an appropriate order prohibiting the unfair employment practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects, including back pay.
The administrative law judge may also allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney fee.
There are also numerous federal laws prohibiting age discrimination.
These laws make it unlawful for an employer hiring 20 or more employees to fail to hire or to discharge any individual over age 40 because of his or her age. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment due to age.
It is also unlawful for an employer hiring 20 or more employees to limit, segregate, or classify employees in any way that will deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their status as an employee because of their age.
Before instituting any action under federal laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first has the right to attempt to eliminate the discriminatory practice and to effect voluntary compliance. A person aggrieved of an unfair labor practice may bring a civil action for legal or equitable relief, but this right to bring such action shall terminate upon the commencement of an action by the EEOC. An individual must wait 60 days after a charge alleging discrimination has been filed by the EEOC.