Fifty years have passed since the enactment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Yet, discrimination against older workers continues in great numbers. A 2013 AARP study revealed that nearly two-thirds of older employees witnessed or experienced age discrimination in their workplace. In 2016, nearly a quarter of all charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved a claim of age discrimination. As older workers stay in the workplace longer, some are calling for Congress to strengthen and update the ADEA, much as it did with the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2008. Meanwhile, employees who believe they have been harassed, discriminated against, or terminated because of their age should know their rights.
As an older worker, how am I protected?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees age 40 and over from being treated less favorably because of age. Similar protection is provided to older workers in Minnesota under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). Under both laws, employers are prohibited from discrimination in any aspect of employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, termination, layoff, job duties, promotions, pay and benefits. Further, an employer may not:
- Refuse to hire or maintain a system of employment that unreasonably excludes a person seeking employment because of age;
- Require or request a person provide information relating to age, or require a person to undergo a physical exam, unless the exam is to determine fitness for employment; or
- Seek and obtain age-related information for purposes of making a job decision or obtaining information from any source, unless for the purpose of compliance with laws, rules or regulations which legally require such information be disclosed.
How do I know if age was a factor in my layoff?
In many reductions in force, age discrimination may occur when laid off workers are replaced by people younger than them, even when the younger replacements are over the age of 40. Age-related comments and name-calling may also indicate age discrimination, such as coworkers or managers referring to older employees as grandpa or grandma or making statements like “not able to keep up with younger employees,” “hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” or “you ought to know better at your age.”
Remarks about retirement, the inability to learn new technology, or younger workers being faster, cheaper or better may also suggest age was a factor in the layoff. Employees who believe they have experienced age discrimination should pay attention to the other employees selected for layoff at the same time and/or whether there is a trend in eliminating old, long-term, injured or ill employees. If you suspect age was a factor in your termination or layoff, contact an employment discrimination attorney immediately to understand your rights.
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Protect Your Rights Against Age Discrimination
Wanta Thome PLC is committed to protecting the rights of employees who have suffered unlawful workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation. If you believe you have suffered discrimination or harassment because of your age, our Minneapolis, Minnesota employment lawyers want to hear from you. Contact us at 612-252-3570 or click here for a free initial consultation.