As the population grows older, age discrimination is becoming more prevalent. The basic definition of age discrimination in employment is treating an employee or job applicant unfavorably due solely to their age. Although both elderly and young people can face discrimination in the workplace, state and federal laws prohibiting age discrimination only address discrimination against employees and job applicants over the age of 40. The laws apply to people working in organizations (both for-profit and non-profit), in employment agencies and as civil servants in local, state and federal government positions. The age discrimination laws do not apply if you are an independent contractor, elected official or military personnel.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from basing employment-related decisions on the age of a person who is 40 or older. This includes everything from the job advertisement, application, interview, hiring, salary, benefits, training, work duties, discipline, promotions, and raises to layoffs and termination. For example, it is unlawful to place age limitations in an advertisement or for training or apprenticeship programs except in rare situations in which age is a relevant factor, such as joining the police force. Employers generally cannot force early retirement on older workers, require people to retire at a certain age, or reduce or deny health benefits for older employees. It is also a violation to use company-wide layoffs to get rid of the older employees. The ADEA also protects against harassment in the workplace due to age. Harassment includes obscene or offensive comments made about a person’s age. If you file an age discrimination complaint or participate in a government investigation about age discrimination, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you.
Actions Not Covered by the ADEA
You should be aware that the law does not prohibit asking employees or job applicants their age or date of birth. However, these questions must be asked for legal purposes only, such as determining if a person is eligible for Medicare.
Talk to an Experienced Age Discrimination Attorney
If you feel you have been a victim of employment discrimination due to your age, you can file a complaint with your company, file a complaint with the EEOC and/or file a lawsuit. It is sometimes difficult to prove you have been the victim of age discrimination, as the employer will likely cite other reasons for the decision. If you are considering filing a complaint or lawsuit, it’s important to hire a lawyer who has a track record of handling age discrimination cases successfully. Yarian and Associates has the knowledge and experience you need in an age discrimination attorney. Contact our office today to set up an appointment so that we can help you protect your rights.