ADEA Eligibility and Coverage

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The age descrimination act applies to employers with twenty or more employers, local, state and federal governments, employment agencies and labor organizations.  The act applies to employees 40 and over.  During the Regan Administration, the ADEA was amended to remove the age cap of 70 relating to the maximum age of employed worker protected by the act.

What Does the ADEA prohibit?

The ADEA prohibited discrimination against a person because of their age of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.  It also prohibits retaliation against an individual who opposes discriminatory employment practices, or for filing an age discrimination claim, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA.  ADEA protections include:

Apprenticeship Programs

Age discrimination is unlawful in apprentice programs, including joint labor-management programs.  Age limitations are only valid in these programs if they fall within specific ADEA exceptions or the EEOC grants a specific exception

Job Notices and Advertisements

Age limitations, preferences or specification are illegal in job notices and advertisements.  They can only be listed if they are a "bona fide occupational qualification" (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business.  (This happens rarely).

Pre-Employment Inquiries

This is not actually prohibited by the ADEA but because questions about age could deter older workers for applying or indicate intent to discriminate against older workers requests for age information is closely scrutinized to make sure it was for a lawful purpose.

Help with Employment Issues

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 age discrimination 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.


The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 protects workers over the age of 40 from discrimination by their employers based on age.  It applies to employers with 20 or more employees, state, local, and federal governments as well as state and federal agencies.  Competent legal counsel is advisable.  Many lawyers will take these cases on a contingency basis.