Older workers should be appreciated for the years of experience they bring to the workplace and the contributions they continue to make to their industries. However, some employees face age discrimination in the workplace.
Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). It protects employees and job applicants who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.
It applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government.
It is against the law to discriminate based on age in hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, compensation, job assignments and training.
Employers are prohibited from including age preferences in job notices or advertisements. The only exception to this is where a job notice specifies an age limit where age is a bona fide occupational qualification needed for normal operation of the business.
When an applicant applies for a job, ADEA does not prohibit the employer from asking for the applicant’s age or date of birth. However, if an employer asks for this information, an older worker may decide not to apply for the employment and it might also indicate that the employer intends to discriminate based on age. For this reason, many employers wait to ask for this information until after a person is hired.
If an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against based on age or any other protected category such as a gender, race, sex, nationality or disability, an attorney can help. Workers have a right to be free from discrimination in the workplace.