ADEA Act

The ADEA Act, Explained

If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA – but what does it really mean, and does it apply to you? Here’s what you need to know.

The ADEA Act, Explained

The so-called ADEA act aims to prevent age discrimination in employment. It applies to workers over the age of 40 who are employed by private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government.

What Actions Are Prohibited Under the ADEA Act?

Under ADEA, employers cannot discriminate against someone because of his or her age (or the age that the employer perceives that person to be) with respect to any term, condition or privilege of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Layoff
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Job assignments
  • Training

The ADEA act also prohibits harassment of an older worker because of his or her age., as well as:

  • Retaliating against an individual for opposing employment practices that are based in age discrimination
  • Filing an age discrimination charge
  • Testifying or participating in an investigation, proceeding or litigation in any way

Protections Under the ADEA Act

ADEA protections cover:

  • Job ads and hiring notices
  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Pre-employment inquiries
  • Benefits
  • Waivers of ADEA claims or rights

Here’s a closer look at each.

ADEA and Job Ads or Hiring Notices

Generally, it’s unlawful to include things like age preferences, limitations or specifications in job ads and hiring notices. However, some job ads can specify an age limit – but only when age is shown to be a bona fide occupational qualification, or BFOQ, that’s reasonably necessary to the business’s normal operation. For example, it’s okay for a retailer to only hire a child for a photo shoot to market a children’s toy.

ADEA and Apprenticeship Programs

For the most part, it’s unlawful for apprenticeship programs to discriminate against someone because of that individual’s age. Age limitations are only valid if they fall under specific exceptions under the ADEA, or if the EEOC grants a specific exemption. You should talk to an attorney if you have been discriminated against because of your age in an apprenticeship program.

ADEA and Pre-Employment Inquiries

Employers are allowed to ask an applicant’s age or date of birth, but these types of inquiries can deter older workers from applying for a job. They can also indicate an attempt to discriminate. If an employer needs the information for a lawful purpose, the employer can ask for it after the employee is hired.

ADEA and Benefits

Employers are specifically prohibited from denying benefits to older employees thanks to the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990, which amended the ADEA act to do so. However, in very limited circumstances, employers can sometimes reduce certain benefits based on a person’s age – but only if the cost the employer would incur to provide those benefits to older workers is not less than the cost of providing the same benefits to younger workers.

What Should You Do if You’re Discriminated Against Because of Your Age?

It’s unlawful for many employers to discriminate against you because of your age, whether you’re applying for a job or you’ve already been hired. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

If you suspect that an employer discriminated against you because of your age, you may want to talk to a discrimination attorney in Los Angeles. Your attorney will ask you several questions during your free consultation, after you explain what happened, so he or she can determine whether it appears that you have a case.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Possible Age Discrimination Under the ADEA Act?

We may be able to help you if you believe an employer has discriminated against you because of your age. Call us at818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable and caring attorney.


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