Age Discrimination

In the workplace today it is not uncommon to be a victim of age discrimination. Since there are more senior citizens in the workplace today, age discrimination among elderly workers is more common. People older than 55 years of age who are otherwise qualified are passed over by businesses because of the stigma of age. The original “Age Discrimination Employment Act” was part of social protection legislation passed during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Medicare and Medicaid legislation were also passed during that time.  The official law was the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 commonly known as “ADEA”.

Another phenomenon behind the elder law specialization is that older people in the United States are subjected to age discrimination by a populace obsessed with youth and afraid of aging. Ageism stigmatizes the process of growing old and leads to abuse and neglect of some elderly persons. It also leads to discrimination against older workers by employers who perceive them as less productive than younger workers. These same older workers often receive higher pay because of their years with the company. For these reasons, employers often try to replace older workers with younger workers, believing they may produce more work for less compensation. Elder law addresses these and other special legal problems of the elderly.  If someone feels they are subject to age discrimination, an age discrimination case can be brought under the ADEA – Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  If you are concerned that you may be a victim of age discrimination consult with a senior law attorney.  They can listen to the facts surrounding your specific situation and advise you accordingly.

Employers and Employees Covered by ADEA

The ADEA applies to employers with twenty or more employers, local, state and federal governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. The act applies to employees 40 and over. During the Regan Administration, the ADEA was amended to remove the age cap of 70 relating to the maximum age of employed worker protected by the act.  It was amended in 1991 to prohibit discrimination relating to benefits and retirement.  The  ADEA prohibited discrimination against a person because of their age of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.  It also prohibits retaliation against an individual who opposes discriminatory employment practices, or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA. One of the aspects of the ADEA as it was amended in the 1990s is that it specifically prevents and prohibits employers from denying benefits to older workers. This recognizes that the cost of benefits to older workers is usually higher than that for younger workers. Benefits can be limited because of an employee’s age only in limited circumstances.

Enforcement of ADEA

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency mandated to enforce the law under the ADEA in addition to other civil rights laws.  There are field, district, and local offices of the EEOC.  Most states have a human relations office or EEOC that investigate claims of EEOC age discrimination.  The EEOC has work sharing agreements with the state offices so that a claim filed in a state office would also be dually filed in the federal office to protect workers federal rights.  If a claim were filed in a federal office, the federal office would file the same claim with the state counterpart to protect the worker’s state rights.  State laws can provide more rights than the federal statutes.

If you think you have been a victim of age discrimination at work, consult a senior law attorney who specializes in age discrimination.  They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your age discrimination case, give you information about what you need to prove and what timelines are important.  They can provide you with information on any rights you may have against age discrimination under state law.  State law may give you additional protections against age discrimination.

The ADEA was enacted to protect workers over the age of 40 for discrimination in employment. It applies to employers with more than 20 employees, local, state, and federal governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations and state and federal agencies. It prohibits age discrimination in apprenticeship programs, job advertisements and notices, pre-employment inquiries and benefits. The law is enforced by the EEOC, which has field, local, and district offices. A claim filed in a state human relations office that has work sharing agreement with the federal EEOC will protect your rights under state and federal law. Many employment lawyers will take these cases on a contingency basis. Seek competent legal counsel.