As a business owner, you know that you are not allowed to discriminate against (or among) employees or applicants based upon their membership in a protected class (such as gender or religion). But one form of discrimination which is often overlooked - or misunderstood - is age discrimination. By familiarizing yourself with what does and does not constitute age discrimination, you can reduce the chances of it occurring within your workplace.
Age discrimination is addressed on a federal level primarily by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA. The ADEA applies to private employers with at least 20 employees. The ADEA only applies to employees or applicants who are 40 years of age or older. Those who are under 40 cannot substantiate a claim of age discrimination at a federal level (although state laws may vary). The ADEA applies at virtually all stages of the employment relationship and covers job advertisements, interviewing, hiring, compensation, job assignments, promotion, evaluations, discipline, training, demotion, and, of course, termination.
A different law, the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, addresses the use of an employee's age as a basis for discrimination in benefits and retirement. This law states that employers cannot reduce health or life insurance benefits for older employees, nor can they prevent pensions from accruing for workers who work past their normal retirement age. This act prohibits employers from forcing employees to take early retirement, and it also discourages businesses from targeting older workers when they are cutting staff. Like the ADEA, this act protects only people who are at least 40 years old.
Remember that age discrimination not only entails giving preferential treatment to those under 40 as compared to those above it; you also cannot discriminate in favor of a person who is 45 against a person who is 50. If you have any questions about age discrimination or are concerned that an action you are considering could constitute age discrimination, you should contact a labor law attorney or reach out to HR for Health by CLICKING HERE, or call 877.779.4747 x option 1, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org today!