Friday, April 29, 2016

Proving age discrimination in employment just got a little easier for some in WV

The West Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment against older people which it defines as workers over age 40. Yikes, yes, it really says 40, kids. Though the law may make you feel old before your time it recognizes the fact that ageism can make it harder for folks over 40 to get hired, get the same opportunities in the workplace, and keep their jobs than younger workers. The protected class of 40 and over is defined the same way in federal anti-discrimination law.

Until the Knotts v. Grafton City Hospital case was decided just this month a worker had to show that he or she was replaced by a worker under age 40 (someone from outside the protected class) to prove a case of age discrimination in employment. But the WV Supreme Court unanimously overturned that requirement and adopted the "substantially younger" rule which allows that a case of age discrimination can be made even if the comparative worker is over age 40 so long as he or she is substantially younger than the plaintiff.

Justice Ketchum delivered the Court's opinion. The decision aligns West Virginia's law with a US Supreme Court case from 1996 (O'Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp).


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