Age Discrimination FAQ

How Is An Employee Protected From Age Discrimination?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers who are over the age of 40 from discrimination in the workplace.  Most ADEA cases involve a worker who is over the age of 40 who is treated differently in some negative or adverse way than a worker who is under the age of 40.  Some common examples of potential ADEA violations include employees who are terminated on the basis of age, employees who are not promoted due to their age, as opposed to similarly situated younger employees who receive promotions, and employees who do not receive periodic bonuses and/or other employment rewards as a result of age discrimination.

Thus, a worker over the age of 40 is protected against discrimination for age reasons, including being forced to retire. Note that the ADEA covers all private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments (including school districts), employment agencies and labor organizations.

The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The employee must have been performing their job in a way that met their employer`s expectations up until the point of alleged discrimination.

What Does The Age Discrimination In Employment Act (ADEA) Govern?

It is unlawful for an employer, employment agency or Labor Union to discriminate in employment against anyone because of his or her age. This includes refusing to hire an individual or firing an employee. It also includes an individual`s compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment and all employee benefits.

Who Is Covered By The Age Discrimination In Employment Act?

The ADEA applies only to persons who are over 40. There is no upper age limit. The ADEA applies to employment practices in both the private and the public sector, including employment agencies and Labor Unions. Using age is not unlawful where age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the job. Also, state and local governments may use age as a basis for hiring and retiring law enforcement officers, prison guards and firefighters.

What Administrative Body May Impose Remedies For A Violation Of The Age Discrimination In Employment Act?

Complaints are to be sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the occurrence of the discriminatory act, unless the alleged misconduct occurred in a state that has an age anti­discrimination agency. If so, charges should be filed within 300 days of the alleged unlawful practice or within 30 days after receipt of notice that the state proceedings have been terminated; whichever is earlier. Any individual civil action may be filed 60 days after a charge has been filed with EEOC or state deferral agency. There is a statute of limitation on lawsuits of 2 years. Three years for willful violations.

Who Can File A Charge Of Job Discrimination?

Any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person's identity. Filing a charge, of course, is just the first step in the litigation process. 

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Search LawInfo's Age Discrimination Resources

Related Topics In This Section