Older workers should be prized for their depth of life experience, their years on the job, their wide knowledge base and their seasoned ability to cope with change. Some people just see age as a negative number, though, not understanding the many benefits that come with working with colleagues over the age of 40. This can lead to workplace discrimination against older workers, laying them off, refusing to hire them, or refusing due advancement opportunities in favor of "younger blood" in the company.
Thankfully, federal and state laws alike prevent on-the-job bias against employees - and prospective employees - ages 40 and up. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), passed by the federal government back in 1967, has provided a framework for understanding what types of employment-related decisions impacting older workers are allowed, and which ones could be discriminatory in nature.
What types of interactions does the ADEA cover?
The ADEA covers prospective employees, part-time employees, and full-time employees. It does not, however cover independent contractors or vendors. That being said, it does cover a wide range of employment-related situations, scenarios and decisions. These include:
- Performance reviews
- Wage or benefit cuts
- Charging older employees more for the same level of benefits
- Taking away duties or opportunities for professional development
The ADEA is there to ensure that age-related bias doesn't rear its ugly head during any of these processes or actions. If, for example, there is only a pretextual reason why an older employee was not promoted over a similarly qualified younger one, discrimination could be to blame.
If you feel you've been the victim of negative workplace age prejudice, you may have a legal cause of action. Reach out to an experienced employment discrimination attorney to learn more.