What Is The Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a federal labor law that prohibits workplace discrimination against workers or applicants who are ages 40 and older based on their age. The law protects older workers in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, bonuses, promotions, training and others. The employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler believe that it is important for you to understand your rights under the act and what you can do if you believe that you have suffered discrimination that is prohibited by the ADEA.

What is discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Prohibited age discrimination under the federal law includes both overt discrimination as well as facially neutral business practices that have a disparate impact on older workers. Acts that are specifically prohibited by the law include the following:

  • Discriminating against older workers in hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, bonuses or pay
  • Specifying age limitations or preferences in advertisements or orally
  • Mandatory retirement policies for most workers other than executives who are 65 or older
  • Denial of benefits in most cases

The federal law applies to employers that have 20 or more employees. There are also limitations to several of its provisions. For example, age limitations may be specified if the reason for them is due to a bona fide job requirement that is reasonable. Normally, this exception is only available for situations such as hiring younger actors to play young characters or because of public safety issues. Employers may reduce the benefits that they provide to older workers if they can demonstrate that the cost of providing the reduced benefits is the same as what the employers pay for the benefits of younger workers.

What are your rights under the ADEA?

If you believe that you have suffered from prohibited age discrimination, you have the right to sue your employer. It is a good idea to first try to negotiate with your employer. With the help of your attorney at Swartz Swidler, you may be able to negotiate a reasonable settlement without needing to file a claim. If your case is very strong, it is possible that your employer will agree to settle in order to avoid being sued.

If a settlement is not possible, it is important that you collect as much documentation as possible to help you to present a strong case. Write down any discriminatory comments along with who made them, the date, the time and any witnesses who may have been present. You should also save all emails or text messages that may be used to prove age discrimination. Your lawyer may help you file your discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Contact Swartz Swidler to learn more about the rights that you might have.