Claim: “most lawyers won’t even take age discrimination cases”

by Walter Olson on August 27, 2013

In an article today on challenges facing older jobless workers, New York Times reporter Michael Winerip asserts that “Since the Supreme Court ruling [Gross v. FBL Financial Services, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that made it slightly more difficult to win suits] most lawyers won’t even take age discrimination cases.” Connecticut employment-law blogger Daniel Schwartz wonders where that claim comes from, since the number of EEOC charges in age-bias cases has gone up, not down, since 2009, and since “NELA – the National Employment Lawyers Association — continues to put forward CLE programs discussing how to advance ADEA claims. … So, where did the Times get this assertion from? I’ve hunted for a source but have yet to find one.” [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]

{ 7 comments }

1 Ron Miller 08.27.13 at 9:34 am

An Open Letter to the New York Times:

If someone calls my office and says they have an age discrimination case, we tell them we can’t help them and we don’t know who can.

So, by all means, Mr. Sulzberger, cite the comment to this post.

While I have your attention, could we get a sports section that is its own unique section in every paper. Stop trying to be so highflautin.

Also, thank you for never hiring Mike Lupica. I’m grateful. And if you get an email from Walter, asking you to fire Paul Krugman, just ignore it.

2 Walter Olson 08.27.13 at 10:01 am

In all fairness, Ron, your law firm’s main page begins as follows:

Miller & Zois are Maryland attorneys handling only personal injury claims involving:
Serious Motor Vehicle Collisions
Medical Errors
Premises Liability
Defective Products
Wrongful Death

A similar testimonial from a firm that specializes in employment matters might carry more weight.

3 Ron Miller 08.27.13 at 10:16 am

Walter, I agree. I’m just telling you we like referring cases to other lawyers. Everyone likes sending other people work. You call here and say you ran into a tree, we would like to help you find someone to sue that tree and bring her to justice. But there is no one really doing the work – at least not well – that I know of to send it out to.

4 Uppercase Matt 08.27.13 at 11:55 am

Of course, that’s the distinction that makes the allegation both true and meaningless. Most lawyers won’t take age discrimination cases. Most lawyers also won’t take bankruptcy cases, or patent cases, or fair-housing cases — because “most lawyers” aren’t doing any specialty cases. So it’s surely true that most lawyers won’t take age discrimination cases, but that doesn’t mean that there are any fewer (or even a smaller percentage of) lawyers that will.

5 jdgalt 08.27.13 at 8:10 pm

Unless the EEOC are willing to force quotas on employers, as they occasionally have for race, there is only one viable way for victims of discrimination to be able to prove their cases — and that would be to take a leaf from the labor law of France and Germany, decree a short list of permissible reasons to fire (or not hire) someone, and require the employer in every case to prove (at a hearing if contested) that one of those reasons applies.

Many American cities already have “renter’s rights” laws that work this way, and I don’t see how any of them could be enforced if they didn’t.

6 Robert Ottinger 08.28.13 at 6:14 am

My firm practices employment law in New York City and we do take age discrimination cases. In fact, we love age discrimination cases and actively seek them. Yes, the US Supreme Court did make it harder to win age cases under federal law, but we don’t use federal law anymore. Instead, we use the NYC Human Rights Law which is as strong as ever. But that law only applies in NYC. We won’t take an age case unless we can use NYC law. Most employment lawyers today will not take an age discrimination case unless there is way around the federal law.

7 Ron Miller 08.28.13 at 11:45 am

“Most employment lawyers today will not take an age discrimination case unless there is way around the federal law.”

There is your money quote from an employment lawyer.

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