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What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

When it comes to workplace discrimination, the big headlines almost always go to high-profile cases about sexual or racial discrimination. Often, however, age-based discrimination occurs in much more subtle ways. The law has recognized this threat for some time, and has addressed it primarily through the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 for almost fifty years.

The ADEA specifically seeks to protect those who are more than 40 years old in the workplace. Under the terms of the act, an employer is restricted from discriminating against a person of 40 years of age or more in any hiring, firing, promotion or layoff, or anything pertaining to pay, benefits or training. It also restricts against retaliatory measures when an individual claims that age discrimination is taking place. It is worth noting that this act applies only to those who are 40 years old or older, and it does allow for an employer to favor an older worker at the expense of a younger worker or even another worker above the age of 40.

There are several exceptions to the act, which are specific to various industries and should be verified with a knowledgeable party. Also, age discrimination restrictions apply only to employers with at least 20 employees. It is common in some circumstances, for an employer to request that an employee waive his or her ADEA rights, usually in a settlement scenario. While this is often requested, one should always consult with an attorney before waiving any rights.

If you believe that you have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you deserve to have your claims considered fairly. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can pursue the enforcement of justice and have the confidence that your rights will be protected.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Age Discrimination," accessed Nov. 25, 2016

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