Age Discrimination at Work: Laws Protecting Employees

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"With age comes wisdom." This maxim may have been applicable in other areas but employment. Due to their expertise and length of service, older employees tend to ask for more in terms of salary and benefits. But with the present economic condition, employers are inclined to dismiss and replace them with younger employees who ask for lesser salary and benefits. In doing so, they could cut on costs. However, the government foresees this event. Hence, it enacted laws to address age discrimination in work place.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

ADEA aims at protecting individuals 40 years and above from age discrimination.  The protection extends to both employees and job applicants with respect to any terms and conditions of employment.

Moreover, the ADEA applies to:

  • Employers with 20 or more employees
  • Employment agencies and labor organizations and the federal government
  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Job Notices and Advertisements
  • Pre-Employment Queries
  • Benefits

ADEA Rights May be Waived

Just like any other rights, employee’s rights under the ADEA may be waived.  The employer may include a provision in the employment contract to mean that rights or claims in the settlement of ADEA or other employment termination program are waived.

However, the waiver must be done in a certain manner. A valid waiver must be:

  • in writing and in a manner understood by either party ;
  • in reference to specific  ADEA rights or claims;
  • exclusive of future  rights or claims;
  • for a valuable consideration; and
  • made upon consultation with a lawyer.

Moreover, the employer must give the employee at least 21 days to reflect on the agreement and seven days to rescind it after signing it.

Some Statistics on Age Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recorded 24, 582 cases of age discrimination in fiscal year 2008 by EEOC employers. About 21,000 charges were resolved, 1,974 were settled and $82. 8 million were recovered.

Age Discrimination Act of 1975

Unlike ADEA, this law applies to all ages. It prohibits discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. It permits the use of certain age distinctions and factors other than age provided that the Act's requirements are met. It is enforced by the Civil Rights Center.

With the current economic turmoil, termination among employees is prevalent. For terminated employees who had been discriminated against based on their age, an age discrimination case may be pursued against their employers. An employment lawyer may be employed to assist in filing their case.