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Understanding the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

Understanding the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

Employees who are older than age 40 are protected under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. This act is a part of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and requires employers to do certain things when they plan to lay off older workers. Severance and release agreements must comply with the law’s requirements. If you are an older worker who has been presented with a severance and release agreement, you might want to consult with the experienced attorneys at Swartz Swidler before you sign it.

What is the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act?

The OWBPA protects employees who are 40 years old and older. Employers must file a strict timeline that is outlined in the law to get valid releases of any potential age discrimination claims. The OWBPA mandates that employers provide detailed information when multiple employees are terminated at or near the same time. The OWBPA applies to involuntary terminations, reductions in the workforce, early retirement plans and exit incentive plans in which employees are asked to sign releases.

Schedule an appointment today. Call (856) 685-7420 or

Schedule an appointment today.
Call (856) 685-7420 or

Rules for employees who are over age 40

In order for a release of claims for age discrimination to be valid, it has to be voluntary and knowing. This means that it must meet the following minimum standards:

  • It must be in writing;
  • It must be written in an easily understandable manner;
  • It must use plain language;
  • It must not be misleading to the employee who will execute the release;
  • It must not exaggerate the benefits that the employee will receive in exchange for signing it;
  • It must refer to the ADEA specifically;
  • It must advise the worker to talk to an attorney before signing it;
  • It must not require employees to waive their claims or rights that may arise after the date that it is signed.

The worker must receive additional consideration that goes beyond any amounts to which he or she was already entitled.

Employers are required to give their workers enough time to consider the release. Single employees must be given a minimum of 21 days to consider the releases beginning with the date of the employer’s final offer. After the employee has signed a release, he or she will then have a seven-day period within which he or she may revoke his or her agreement. If the release does not include these time periods, it will be unenforceable.

Requirements when two or more employees who are older than 40 will be terminated

Employers who ask for a group of employees who are 40 or older to sign releases must follow additional requirements. Groups of workers who are older than 40 have consideration periods that are 45 days. Employers must also give the workers detailed data about all of the other workers who have been asked to sign releases and have been offered severance. These requirements exist even if the terminations are spaced out over time if they all arise from the same decision. The following data must be given to each of the older workers:

  • The group of employees covered by the exit program
  • The program’s eligibility factors
  • The program’s time limits
  • The ages and job titles of all of the workers who are eligible to participate in the program or who were selected for it
  • The ages of all of the workers within the same classification who were not selected for or eligible for the program

The purpose of requiring that this information is given to the employees is to help them make informed decisions about whether or not they should sign. If you have been asked to sign a release, you may want to review it with one of the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler to make certain that your rights are protected.

Most Frequently Asked Question: Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact one of our attorneys. For more information check out the FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page

Most Frequently Asked Question:
Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is contact one of our attorneys. For more information on a just a few scenarios checkout the flip box FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page.

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Phone: (856) 685-7420
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Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733