Age discrimination is real. In fact, according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, 20,857 claims alleging discrimination based on age were filed in 2016. While employers are not generally allowed to hire, promote, fire, or determine an employee’s compensation or benefits based on age, it can be hard to determine whether specific actions were the result of discrimination due to that factor or by the belief that another candidate has more appropriate skills or are better equipped to perform a job.
If you believe you have been a victim of age discrimination, each state has extensive complaint filing and fact finding procedures to help you determine if you have been discriminated against based on age and if your rights have been violated. Read on to learn what qualifies as age discrimination and how the law protects you.
Discriminating against employees or applicants is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Refusing to hire or promote employees 40 years of age or older qualifies as age discrimination, as does firing, limiting compensation, job assignments, benefits, training, or the conditions, terms or employment privileges based on age.
Additionally, retaliation against an applicant or employee for opposing age discrimination practices, filing an age discrimination claim, participating in or testifying in an investigation or litigation is unlawful under the ADEA.
Age discrimination violations can also include:
- Unlawfully including age preferences, specifications, or limitations in job advertisements or notices unless required for the specific position, such as hiring an actor to play a specific age range.
- Unlawfully restricting apprenticeship programs based on age unless they fall within specific ADEA or EEOC exemptions.
- Discrimination related to participation in federal activities and programs that receive Federal financial assistance based on age is prohibited under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
- Pre-employment age-related inquiries are not explicitly prohibited, but they are contrary to the ADEA’s purposes as they may deter workers from applying for positions and can indicate the intent to discriminate by age. Age-related inquiries can be made after hiring, if applicable.
- Employers are specifically prohibited from denying older employees benefits by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA). However, because older employees can have higher benefit-related costs than younger hires, employers can reduce certain benefits based on age as long as they provide the same benefit cost amount that is provided to younger workers, and can coordinate state-sponsored health benefits and Medicare with their retiree health benefit plans.