Current Issues in Age Discrimination Law

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the ADEA, also known as eeoc adea, has reported a substantial increase in the number of charges filed alleging age discrimination.  There are two major reasons given for this increase: (1) America’s workforce is getting older.  As the baby boomer generation starts to retire (Who ever thought you’d see Patty Duke doing Social Security retirement ads!) or gets near retirement age discrimination in the workplace because of age becomes a greater concern (2) the economic downturn has caused massive layoffs.

Current Issues Affecting the Workforce Under the ADEA

ADEA Waivers

Are waivers of older workers benefits fair.   The 1990 amendment to the ADEA has strict guidelines for waivers of benefits for older workers.  This scrutiny is unlikely to change as employers in a struggling economy reduce their workforces.  It will be important to the employee that the waiver meets statutory requirements and important to the employer that once a waiver is signed that it be enforceable.

Damages and Compensation

In adea cases are substantial employees can be awarded back pay, front pay, and punitive damages.  age discrimination suit litigants appear to receive empathy from the court and juries.  Employers need to consider the potential liabilities under the ADEA law when restructuring the workforce.

Healthcare Benefits

Rulings by the federal court indicate that under the adea employees must be given the same health care for Medicare eligible workers as the younger workers.  As healthcare costs continue to escalate, there is a concern that the burden on employers will force them to stop giving comprehensive benefits to their entire workforce.

Disparate Impact Claims

The ADEA allows an employer to terminate an older employee if the entire workforce is being reduced and all workers are being treated fairly.  The question is whether a plan to reduce workers that appears neutral on its face, has a more negative impact on older workers.  This is an issue where age discrimination claims are expected to increase because of the recession.

Help with ADEA Claims

If you think you have been a victim of age discrimination, consult a lawyer who specializes in employment law.  They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your case, give you information about what you need to prove and what timelines are important.  They can provide you with information on any rights you may have against age discrimination under state law.  State law may give you additional protections against age discrimination.

Age Discrimination Law: Bottom Line

The ADEA was enacted to protect workers over the age of 40 for discrimination in employment.  It applies to employers with more than 20 employees, local, state, and federal governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations and state and federal agencies.  It prohibits age discrimination in apprenticeship programs, job advertisements and notices, pre-employment inquiries and benefits.  The law is enforced by the EEOC, which has field, local, and district offices.  A claim filed in a state human relations office that has work sharing agreement with the federal EEOC will protect your rights under state and federal law.  Many employment lawyers will take these cases on a contingency basis.  Seek competent legal counsel.

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