Michigan’s tech industry booming; watch for age discrimination

The tech industry in Michigan is booming, but employees need to be aware that age discrimination continues to plague this market. Remedies are available for victims, and employers can be held accountable.

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), a group that was developed as the state's marketing arm and advocate for business development, high-tech startups are on the rise in Michigan. The group states that Michigan has "unrivaled" strength in research and development activity, particularly for intelligent transportation systems.

This could translate to job opportunities for those with tech degrees and experience in the field. Although this market may be doing well, it also has received negative publicity for discriminatory practices.

Age discrimination in the tech industry

Age discrimination is not uncommon in the tech industry. A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek addressed the problem, noting tech mega-giant IBM continues to face accusations of discriminatory practices. IBM used to include a list of job titles and ages of all workers who were fired with pink slips.

According to the report, this practice helped shield the business from age discrimination suits by allowing fired employees an option: take the severance package and waive the right to pursue an age discrimination lawsuit or reject the package and take your chances in court. Bloomberg's report claims the company changed its practice, withholding the information of the other workers who were also fired. The company claims it can get around providing this information by allowing terminated employees to retain the right for relief in an arbitration proceeding instead of a lawsuit. Whether or not this is legal has not yet been tested in court.

The company argues the move was made in response to concerns about employee privacy, stating critics of the practice thought IBM was providing too much personal information when titles and ages were listed. Employee advocates argue the company is just trying to avoid legitimate lawsuits by withholding the information.

Age discrimination in Michigan

Age discrimination is not just against federal law; it also violates various state laws in Michigan. In addition to the federal protections offered under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) prohibits discrimination and retaliation based on age. This law generally applies to all employers in the state.

Discriminatory practices can occur in a variety of circumstances. Some examples include basing promotions or terminations solely on an individual candidate's age. Remedies are available for those who are the victims of age discrimination. This can include lost pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

If you believe you are the victim of discriminatory practices, contact a Michigan attorney representing victims of age discrimination to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights and any potential for remedies is protected.

Keywords: age discrimination