Small Business Age Discrimination

Small businesses employing fewer than 20 workers, are not held to the federal standards set forth in The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). However, these small business owners and managers must carefully review their state and local laws (All 50 States ) with their attorneys to see what types of employment discrimination practices are prohibited within them. (Those running small businesses that hire 20 or more employees are required to respect all the provisions of the ADEA.) As those familiar with the ADEA may recall, that law provides specific protections to all workers who are 40 years of age or older.

The age discrimination act 1975 protects workers of all ages who are handling projects and programs funded by the federal government. This Act is slightly different than the ADEA in that it purposely allows, under highly specific circumstances, employers to use age-related factors when making certain employment decisions.

Advice to Small Businesses for Workplace Age Discrimination

The EEOC recognizes that many businesses simply don’t always have the resources to keep researching which laws currently apply to them. For that reason, the EEOC has created one Web site page that specifically addresses many questions and concerns of business owners.

I. Which Employees Should Be Counted?

The EEOC states that you must count all part-time and temp employees, in addition to all full-time employees, to arrive at a correct number of total employees. (Independent contractors are not counted in this number). So, if you have ten full-time employees, seven temps and five part-time employees, your small business is bound by the provisions of the ADEA that govern those with 20 or more employees. Since it is often rather difficult to determine which workers are truly employees and not independent contractors, the EEOC has provided the public with special information on that topic.

II. The Time Limits for Filing an EEOC Charge and Those Eligible to File One

An employee filing an age discrimination case against a small business owner is generally given 300 days from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a charge.

Any employee who believes he or she was unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of age may file an EEOC charge based on that claim.

How Small Businesses Should Proceed to Avoid Expensive Litigation

Because the EEOC realizes how expensive it can be to run a small business, it offers a free mediation program. However, all parties must agree to this approach to resolve their differences for it to be binding. If mediation does not prove to be a successful option, a small business may be subjected to an EEOC investigation and a separate lawsuit filed by the complaining party.