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Preventing Age Discrimination at Work

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

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Those of us who equate age with experience may be surprised to learn there are some employers who will choose not to hire someone or promote someone because of that person's age. Age discrimination is illegal though, and those who make employment decisions based on age are in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, or job candidates, on the basis of age. This law covers workers who are 40 years of age and older. An employer must have at least 20 workers to be covered by this law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

How Does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Protect You?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it unlawful for an employer to make employment-related decisions based on an employee's or a prospective employee's age. Here are several ways in which workers age 40 and above are covered:
  • An employer can't make hiring decisions based on an applicant's age and he or she can't discriminate based on age when recruiting job candidates, advertising for a job or testing applicants.
  • An employer can't fire a worker because of his age.
  • An employer can't use age to classify, segregate or limit an employee if this will negatively affect the employee's status or deprive him or her of opportunities.
  • An employer can't use age to determine an employee's pay.
  • An employer can't deny benefits to an employee because of the employee's age. In some circumstances, however, the employer may provide reduced benefits to older workers if the cost of providing those reduced benefits matches the cost of providing benefits to a younger worker. In other words, the cost of providing the benefits to older workers and younger workers must be the same.
  • An employee may take age into account when making an employment-related decision only if it is in regard to an authentic qualification necessary for the business's operation.

What To Do If Your Boss Fails to Abide by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Regardless of the fact that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was signed into law in 1967, employees continue to discriminate on the basis of age. In Fiscal Year 2009, the EEOC received 22,778 complaints about age discrimination (Age Discrimination in Employment Act FY 1997 - FY 2009. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If you experience age discrimination at work or in the hiring process go to the EEOC Web Site and read the rules for Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination.

Source: Age Discrimination. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

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