Protections against age discrimination, part 1: federal law
There are many sayings and adages about aging. They range in tone from the silly to the inspiring. Unfortunately, there is only one Billy Crystal and most canned sayings about getting older are not particularly funny.
But unfunny jokes may be the least of an older worker’s problems. Age discrimination is a very real problem in the workplace. Harassment of older workers is a problem as well.
In this two-part post, then, we will tackle the issue of age discrimination at work.
Let’s start by taking note of the applicable federal law on the subject. That law is still the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees. It prohibits discrimination based on age against people who are at or over a certain age. That age, under the law, is 40.
Of course, this is where some of those adages and sayings about aging could come in. It might be easy to say, in a glib, cocktail-party sort of way, that “40 is the new 30” or some such thing.
But in terms of federal law, 40 is the age at which protections against age discrimination come into play.
At the state level, however, some states do have age-related legal protections for workers that take effect at ages younger than 40.
It should also be pointed out that age discrimination protections under federal law do not only apply to people who have already been hired. They also apply to hiring decisions.
In fact, there are many aspects of employment that age discrimination can affect. In addition to hiring, these include:
• Firing (termination)
• Pay and promotions
• Training opportunities
• Choice of job assignments
Indeed, age discrimination can potentially affect any condition of employment.
In part two of this post, we will discuss remedies that workers can pursue for age discrimination.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Age Discrimination,” Accessed April 18, 2014