Like the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits employment discrimination based on age. To successfully bring a PHRA claim of age discrimination through termination or replacement, an employee must show evidence demonstrating that 1) he or she belonged to the protected class of persons 40 years of age or older; 2) he or she was performing duties that he or she was qualified to perform; 3) he or she was discharged; and 4) that a continuing need for the services the employee had been performing existed. See 1 Summ. Pa. Jur. 2d Torts § 12:63 (2d ed.).
In order to prevail on a claim alleging age discrimination in termination, the employee has the sometimes-difficult burden of proving that his or her age was in fact the actual motivation and determinative influence in the employer’s decision to fire the employee.
As was made clear in the case of Glanzman v. Metropolitan Management Corp., the replacement of an older employee by a younger one does not necessarily permit the inference that such a replacement was motivated by age discrimination. 391 F.3d 506. Once an employee presents the necessary direct evidence of discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that they would have fired the employee even if they had not considered the employee’s age. The employer in Glanzman was able to list several other causes for firing, including, inter alia, the employee’s failure to timely respond when paged, lying, and making excessive personal calls on the office phone. Therefore, the employer successfully rebutted the employee’s prima facie case of age discrimination by relying on evidence of these other causes for firing.