Forced retirement occurs when an employer requires a worker to retire early because of his age.
It is possible for an employer to offer an older worker a voluntary retirement package which does not violate the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In such a situation, you will usually also be asked to surrender your right to sue under ADEA laws. When waiving your ADEA rights, the agreement must:
- Be in writing and be understandable;
- Specifically refer to ADEA rights or claims;
- Not require you to waive rights or claims that may arise in the future;
- Be in exchange for a valuable benefit which you will receive;
- Advise you that you may consult an attorney before signing the waiver; and
- Give you at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least 7 days to revoke the agreement after signing it.
The 1990 Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) amended the ADEA and created regulations prohibiting employers from denying benefits to older workers. The primary purpose of the OWBPA is to protect older employees by guaranteeing that employers do not illegally pressure older workers into waiving ADEA rights.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated because of your age, you may be eligible for age discrimination damages and should consider speaking with an employment lawyer. An attorney will be familiar with the ADEA and OWBPA standards that apply to your personal employment situation and may represent you in court, if necessary.