Employees over the age of 40 are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of age. Workers are protected under The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The ADEA protects employees and job applicants. Generally, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or job applicant in regards to any term, condition or privilege of employment. Employees and job applicants cannot be discriminated against based on age related to hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, compensation benefits, job assignments and training.
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or greater employees and state and federal governments. Except in rare circumstances, it is unlawful to include in job notices or advertisements age preferences, limitations or specifications. Additionally, requests for an applicant's age or date of birth are closely scrutinized. Also, in general, apprenticeship programs are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of age and benefits, except in limited circumstances when they may be reduced, cannot be denied to older workers.
Knowing the basics of age discrimination is important because of the reliance most workers understandably place in their job and job security or the ability to obtain a job. The law recognizes that the ability of older workers to secure and maintain a job that can provide for them and for their family is important. Workers are protected at many points along the hiring and employment continuum.
Individuals who have suffered discrimination because of age have legal protections and options to consider and should be familiar with their rights. Workers who have suffered age discrimination should know how to protect their livelihood if it is being threatened by the unlawful actions of an employer.