Victims of age discrimination in the workplace are typically able to bring suit in federal court, state court or a state administrative agency in charge of enforcing civil rights laws. To pursue a federal court claim of age discrimination, an employee must first file or cross-file a charge with the EEOC.
ADEA PROTECTIONS: Age Discrimination under federal law is governed by The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). This law protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA applies to both employees as well as job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because 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.
ADEA EMPLOYERS/PROGRAMS COVERED: The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations as well as the federal government. It also applies to the following:
- Apprenticeship Programs: The ADEA prohibits apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs to discriminate on the basis of an individualâ€™s age unless certain specific exemptions apply;
- Job Notices and Advertisements: It is unlawful under the ADEA to include age preferences, limitation, or specifications in job notices or advertisements. Such are only permitted in the rare situations where age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) reasonably related to the normal operation of the business.
- Benefits: The Older Worker Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older workers. Congress recognized that the cost of providing certain benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those same benefits to younger workers, and that those greater costs could create a disincentive to hire older workers. Therefore, in limited circumstances, an employer may be permitted to reduce benefits based on age, as long as the cost of providing reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.