Age Discrimination Laws
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Age Discrimination Laws
Most states and the federal government have laws that prohibit age discrimination. These laws affect:
- Private persons
Employees are protected from employers under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Generally, workers over the age of 40 are protected. Age discrimination occurs when your employer treats you differently due to your age.
How Do I Prove Age Discrimination?
To prove age discrimination, an employee must show that the employer's intent was to discriminate on the basis of age. This intent can also be proved if the employer has treated other persons in the same age range unfairly. Examples of when age discrimination can occur in the workplace:
- Hiring, forced retirement, firing
- Job advertisements and recruitment
- Compensation, pay, regular and fringe benefits
- Waivers of the right to sue in exchange for severance pay
What Else Does Age Discrimination Laws Prohibit?
Age discrimination laws also prohibit:
- Age preference or age limitations in job notices or advertisements. This is allowed only when the employer has proven that age is a "bona fide occupational qualification."
- Discrimination by apprenticeship programs.
- Denial of equal benefits to older employees. This may be allowed if employers prove that the cost of lesser benefits to the older employees equals regular benefits to younger employees.
- Retaliation against an employee for filing a claim or reporting age discrimination.
- Harassment due to age.
Which Agency Deals with Age Discrimination?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal anti-discrimination laws. They investigate claims of age discrimination in employment. Generally, to file a lawsuit in federal court, an employee must first file a claim with the EEOC. The deadline for filing a claim with the EEOC is 180 days after the age discriminatory act. Due to the EEOC's high caseload, the process tends to be:
- The EEOC sends you a "right to sue" letter
- You hire a private attorney
- You pursue your age discrimination case in court
Employees that have signed a waiver of age discrimination rights may give up their right to sue an employer.
State Age Discrimination Laws and Agencies
Most states also have their own laws regulating age discrimination in employment, and agencies to enforce these laws. The names of these state agencies vary by state, as do the deadlines for filing a claim.
Should I Get an Attorney for My Age Discrimination Case?
Yes. An age discrimination claim against an employer can be complicated. An experienced employment lawyer can help you with the filing a claim. Also, because the EEOC cannot process your claim quickly, a lawyer can help you pursue extra remedies. It is also a good idea to see a lawyer before signing a waiver or severance package. If you are an employer being sued for employment discrimination, you should speak to a lawyer immediately.
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Last Modified: 04-22-2015 02:45 PM PDT
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