What is Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, otherwise called ADEA was enacted in 1967. Everything began in 1964 when the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act that protected employees from being discriminated against based on their sex, race and other factors. This legislation did not give any protection to older people concerning their rights as employees. This is the main reason why the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed.

At that period there was a widespread opinion among employers that age could affect in a negative way on the employees’ working abilities and professional qualities. Younger employees were preferred to older ones. The new legislation thus helped to abolish age discrimination against older employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act covers agencies, corporations, organizations that:

  • are in an industry that affects interstate commerce
  • employ 20 or more individuals

According to the ADEA, employers are not allowed to refuse to provide a position or a benefit to an elderly individual based on his/her age if the employee is competent and qualified enough to do the job or to get the promotion.

Also, according to the ADEA, the employers are not allowed to require a mandatory retirement from their employees just because they have reached 65 or more.  The only exception here is that people of 65 should undergo mandatory retirement if they are policy-makers or executives in the company.

A large majority of employees are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however there are some exceptions as well. For example people who according to independent contracts, cannot be protected by the legislation.

Thus, the ADEA protects employees who are 40 or more from age discrimination in employment, promotion, benefits, hiring, and privileges and so on. This generally means that:

  • an employer cannot fire an employee based on his/her age
  • an employer cannot hire an employee based mainly on an applicant’s age
  • an employer cannot pay an employee based on his/her age

It should also be mentioned, that according to the ADEA, no employer has the right to include any limitations concerning the applicant’s age in the job notice. However, this doesn’t mean that the legislation prohibits the employer to ask the applicant about his/her age.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act provides protection to those older Americans who have been discriminated against due to their age. Back pay is usually the most common way of compensation of the damages the plaintiff has suffered. This usually includes the salaries that the worker should have received during the time he/she was being discriminated against.





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