Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") is a federal law that protects workers and job applicants forty (40) years and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, relative to the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
The ADEA is enforced by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The ADEA applies to employers with at least twenty (20) employees and employment agencies, the federal government, state and local government, and labor organizations with at least twenty-five (25) members. The ADEA does not apply to elected officials, independent contractors, or military personnel.
According to the EEOC, the ADEA generally makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements. The only time an employer can specify age on a job notice or advertisement is when age is shown to be a bona fide occupational qualification. Which means that age has to be reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business. Furthermore, the ADEA prohibits employers from setting age limits for training programs.
The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant's age or date of birth on an employment application. If an employer asks for an applicant's age or date of birth on an employment application, this may show "intent" to discriminate based on age. If an applicant's date of birth is necessary (e.g., a background check), an employer should obtain this information after the formal application and interview processes are over.
Age Discrimination Today
In August, Forbes magazine reviewed an AARP survey on age discrimination in the workplace. AARP surveyed 3,900 people, age forty-five (45) and older, who were working full-time or part-time or looking for work.
The survey demonstrated that 9 out of 10 older workers regarded age discrimination as "common." Furthermore, 61% of those surveyed stated that they have either personally experienced age discrimination or personally know someone who has been affected. The survey noted that women are more likely than men to see or experience age discrimination.