The Houston Chronicle has an article today about the nationwide trend of an increasing number of age discrimination claims filed by baby boomers.
"[A]ge-bias litigation is a scenario being repeated across the country as companies' streamlining efforts take a toll on baby boomers whose salaries make them targets for layoffs. "We're seeing a ton of it," [an EEOC senior trial attorney] said."
Employment lawyers tend to agree that age discrimination cases are a bottom-up phenomenon. Companies generally try to be fair and set appropriate policies. Lower-level managers who implement those policies are the ones who usually create discrimination problems.
Here's a common scenario:
"[T]the bulk of age-discrimination complaints are brought by a sole plaintiff. These plaintiffs tend to have several things in common: They've worked for one employer for many years, have been stellar performers and were fired after new managers had taken over.
"What we see over and over again is a new boss comes in and the new boss wants to reorganize and change things," said [one attorney]. "The new boss makes life miserable for the long-term, exceptional employees, and soon some or all of them begin to receive unfair scrutiny and eventually are fired, moved out or demoted."
Demographics suggest that this trend will not change soon. And, as the article points out, retaliation claims will probably follow the surge in pure age discrimination claims.