If you've been denied promotion because of your age and you work at a company with 20 or more employees, you may have a claim for age discrimination. Federal law protects people 40 and older against discrimination in employment. And increasingly courts are receptive to claims of older workers. Remedies include back pay, promotions and attorneys' fees.
To succeed in an age discrimination lawsuit, you will have to prove you were qualified for the promotions you wanted and would have gotten them were it not for your age.
Gather information to support your case -- copies of work assignments, notes or letters praising a job well done; favorable performance reviews; your salary history.
Make daily notes about relevant events at work, including off-hand remarks that reveal a preference for younger employees. Get names of possible witnesses, collect background about pending lawsuits, and answer any negative reviews in writing.
Take your records to a lawyer. The next step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws. If your state has an age discrimination law, you also should file a complaint with the department responsible for enforcing that law -- generally a state employment agency or human rights commission.
After receiving your complaint, the EEOC will investigate your case. Sometimes it decides to bring a lawsuit, but more often it tries to settle the matter.
Deborah Jacobs, a business writer specializing in legal topics, regularly contributes to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Newsweek. Write to her c/o Chronicle Features, 870 Market St., Suite 1011, San Francisco, Calif. 94102. Please include your name, address and telephone number.