Federal law offers a range of protections against discrimination. Age is one of the covered areas, but it follows the definitions within the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the ADEA has specific age limits and requirements for it to be valid.
The ADEA only applies to people age 40 or older. You cannot use the protections within the act if you are not at least 40 years old.
The ADEA is active in all workplaces where there are at least 20 employees. The coverage extends to private, government and labor organization employers.
The act bans discrimination against a person due to his or her age at any stage of employment. It also forbids harassment, benefit reductions or changes, training, job duties, promotions, and other applicable situations. For example, an employer cannot specify an age requirement in a job ad unless there is a legal precedent for doing so.
The ADEA also includes protection if an employee over the age of 40 reports discrimination. The employer cannot retaliate against that person in any way.
It is important to note that the ADEA does allow preferential treatment for employees over the age of 40. If a younger person suffers due to the treatment, it is still allowable under the act.
Another item of note is that the ADEA does not make it illegal to ask an applicant’s age or birthdate. Many people misunderstand this.
The ADEA is to protect older workers from things like forced retirements. It allows the workforce to remain diverse in ages and gives everyone a chance to succeed.