A Brief Q&A on Employment Age Discrimination

Aging is a natural part of life. It is inevitable and universal. And in US society, as we age and pay our dues in life, we are supposed to be granted more respect and courtesy due to our advanced experience and knowledge.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case in practice, particularly in the workplace.

As the US population gets older, the danger of age discrimination—also known as ageism—in employment increases. It is vitally important that ageing adults in the US be informed of their rights so that they can take action when they face workplace discrimination.

In this blog, we will provide answers to several important and frequently asked questions regarding age discrimination in employment.

What exactly is age discrimination?

Similar to race discrimination or gender discrimination, age discrimination is any prejudicial actions taken against someone based on their age. In the workplace, this means any ill treatment or consideration based on someone’s age rather than their merit.

Is age discrimination illegal?

Yes. Discrimination based on age in employment was made illegal with the passing of Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967. The ADEA broadly outlaws any forms of ageism in employment, but it explicitly lists numerous discriminatory actions as well. These include, but are not limited to, age discrimination in hiring, wages, termination or layoffs, and denial of benefits. In fact, employers cannot even make statements indicating an age preference. The ADEA was also amended to prohibit mandatory retirement policies in 1986 for all covered adults except high-level policy making executives over the age of 65.

Who does the ADEA protect?

The ADEA bans age discrimination against adults aged 40 or older.

Do all employers have to adhere to the ADEA?

Employers with 20 or more employees, employment agencies, all levels of government (federal, state, local), and labor organizations with at least 25 members are required to adhere to the ADEA.

Is there anyone else who is not protected?

Notably, elected officials and military personal are not protected by the ADEA. Additionally, independent contractors do not enjoy this federal age discrimination protection either.

What can I do if I qualify for ADEA protections and I have been a victim of ageism in the workplace?

You have the right to pursue legal action against your employer if you believe you have been discriminated against based on your age. Cases are incredibly nuanced, however, and it can be extremely difficult to prove since no employer is going to admit that they committed age discrimination. Age discrimination lawsuits are uphill battles and it is important that you have a strong case before moving forward. This is why it is vital that you enlist the services of a skilled employment law attorney who understands exactly what evidence you will need and how it should be presented to prove your age discrimination claim.

What happens if I win my case?

If you win an age discrimination lawsuit, you will be entitled to reinstatement and back pay if your position was terminated, and you could be entitled to recover damages if reinstatement is not possible or if it is clear your employer acted intentionally against you.  

Age discrimination in the workplace is an increasingly pervasive issue that must be addressed. If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination in employment, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can analyze your case, help you consider your options, and help you present the strongest possible case if it is feasible to move forward with legal action. The Amsberry Law Firm can help, so give us a call today if you have questions or are facing any form of workplace age discrimination.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.