Preventing Age Discrimination at Work

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

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There are people who equate age with experience, but there are others who do not value workers who are over a certain age. That certain age may be even younger than you would expect. Some employers will choose not to hire someone or promote an individual because of something as seemingly insignificant as the year that person was born. Making job-related or hiring decisions based on age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a United States law that was passed in 1967.

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 is intended to prohibit employers from discriminating against workers or job candidates on the basis of age. It protects workers who are at least 40 years old. To be subject to this law, a company must have at least 20 employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

How Does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Protect You?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for an employer to make employment-related decisions based on an employee's or a job candidate's age. Workers who are age 40 and above are covered by this law. Here's how:

  • An employer can't decide whether or not to hire an applicant because of her age and cannot discriminate based on age when recruiting job candidates, advertising for a job or testing applicants.
  • An employer can't fire a worker because of his age.
  • An employer can't use one's age to classify, segregate or limit an employee if this will negatively affect her status or deprive her of opportunities.
  • An employer can't base a worker's pay on his age.
  • An employer can't deny benefits to an employee because of her age. Under certain circumstances, however, the employer may provide reduced benefits to older workers if the cost of providing those reduced benefits matches the cost of providing benefits to a younger worker. In other words, it must cost the employer the same amount of money to provide benefits to all their workers regardless of their age.
  • An employee may only take age into account when making an employment-related decision if it is in regard to an authentic qualification necessary for the business's operation.

What To Do If Your Boss Fails to Abide by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Unfortunately there are employers who fail to abide by the law. Even though the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was signed into law in 1967, some companies continue to discriminate against their workers and job applicants on the basis of age. In Fiscal Year 2013, the EEOC received 21,396 complaints about age discrimination (Age Discrimination in Employment Act FY 1997 - FY 2013. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If you have a good reason to believe that your employer or prospective employer discriminated against you at work or in the hiring process because of your age, go to the EEOC Web Site and carefully read the rules for Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination. You will have to go to your local EEOC office to file your complaint but you can get the process started over the phone.

Source: Age Discrimination. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

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