What’s the Age Discrimination and Employment Act?

The Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects workers from being discriminated against on the basis of how old they are.

The ADEA protects workers from age discrimination if they are 40 years of age or older. The ADEA covers different stages of employment, including: firing, hiring, apprenticeships and job advertising.

A more detailed description of ADEA protections

Here are the primary protections offered to workers by virtue of the ADEA:

  • Employers may not discriminate against employees and/or prospective employees on the basis of the age of the employees at any stage. This covers interviewing, promotion, termination, application and hiring.
  • Employers cannot advertise for specific promotions, interviews, work evaluations or other issues in which they specify age limitations. Advertisements may not have an age limitation unless age presents a business necessity related to an occupational qualification.
  • Employers may not reduce an employee’s life insurance or health insurance benefits just because he or she grows older.
  • Employers may not discriminate against older workers when making selections for layoffs or downsizing the employee population.
  • Employers may not retaliate against any worker who complains about or takes legal action on the basis of the ADEA. Nor can employers retaliate against a worker for testifying about or supporting the age discrimination complaints of a fellow worker.

Proving age discrimination may not be easy

Although the law protects workers from age discrimination, it isn’t always easy to prove an age discrimination claim in court. Proving such a case involves a plaintiff showing that an employer took a specific action that was damaging to the employee, and that action was done against the employee because of his or her age.

One way of proving age discrimination might be to reference instances in which an employee was ridiculed or demeaned because of his or her age. If this was done by way of email or text message, it can be particularly useful proof of age-related discrimination.

Learn as much as you can about your legal rights as an elderly worker

As the baby boomer generation continues to get older, we will likely see more and more instances of age discrimination in state and federal courts. If you’re an older worker, you might want to educate yourself about your legal rights as an elderly worker. This way, if you face on-the-job age discrimination, you can fight back and assert your rights in court.

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