Federal law has prohibited many forms of age discrimination in the workplace since 1967 when Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Act says that employers cannot discriminate against workers on the basis of how old they are.
While the idea of prohibiting age discrimination seems straightforward, the Act itself contains a number of complicated nuances. Here are some facts about the ADEA that might surprise some California workers.
1. The ADEA only protects workers who are 40 years old or more.
2. Employers cannot discriminate “with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment.” This includes everything from job offers to training and benefits.
3. It is almost always against the law to mention age preferences or limits in a job posting.
4. Some people might think that employers cannot ask candidates age or date of birth. This is actually not the case but asking for this information does seem to make it more likely that the employer will consider an applicant’s age for potentially unlawful reasons.
5. The ADEA does allow employers to discriminate in favor of older employers, even if this hurts another employee who is over age 40 and thus covered by the statute.
The ADEA is a complex and nuanced law. Anyone who suspects that an employer has violated its protections by discriminating on the basis of age should consult with an experienced California employment lawyer.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Fact Sheet: Age Discrimination,” Dec. 28, 2009