The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits any discriminatory acts (based on age) against persons 40 years and older in matters wherein employment conditions or privileges are the issues; these, of course, include hiring, promotion, retention of employment, job assignment, compensation and benefits, training, layoff, and all other employment-related issues. The protection provided by ADEA is intended for both job applicants and employees and the Act itself applies to state and local governments, labor organizations, employment agencies and all private companies with 20 or more employees (this Act also provides protection for US citizens hired and working for US employers overseas, so long as no laws of that country will be violated by the Act).
ADEA offers protection against discrimination based on age as well as against any form of retaliatory acts. This latter protection is also provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful for an employer or manager to retaliate against an employee who: complains about age discrimination practices in the workplace; files a complaint to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about a violation on any of the stipulations of ADEA (or other discriminatory acts based on other reasons); or, participates or testifies in an investigation or lawsuit proceedings regarding employment discrimination.
Some of the other types of protection that ADEA provides include:
- The non-inclusion of age specification, limit or preference in job advertisements and notices, unless in jobs where age is a bona fide occupational qualification, such as an actor supposed to play the role of a young adult in a film
- Strictly limiting inquiries regarding a person’s age (during job interviews) for lawful purposes, such as to determine the possible length of service a person may be able to render. This is applicable in jobs like an airline pilot or bus driver which requires a mandatory retirement age
- Prohibition of offensive remarks about a person’s age, which may be construed as harassment (except when such remarks are made as offhand comments or simple ways of teasing and not as insults on the person concerned)
- Prohibition on employers to deny older employees the work benefits that they legally deserve. However, since the law recognizes the fact that costs of certain benefits provided to older employees are higher than the cost of same benefits when provided for younger workers, the law allows employers, in limited circumstances, to reduce benefits based on age, so long as the cost of the reduced benefits to older workers and the cost of the benefits provided to younger workers are the same.
With regard to making remarks about a person’s age, the law firm of Cary Kane LLP explains on its website that if such remarks are made too often, leading to the creation of a hostile working environment or resulting to employment decisions that will demote or end the older worker’s employment, then it would be necessary to consult a legal counsel. Having a competent lawyer, to protect one’s rights, becomes more essential if the older employee gets to be asked to sign accept a severance package in exchange for signing a release form.Read More