The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), the federal statute that protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination in the workplace, will turn 50 later this year. Under the ADEA, an employer with more than 20 employees cannot make decisions about hiring, firing, layoffs, pay, benefits, or any other condition of employment based on an individual’s age.
Life Before the ADEA
Before the ADEA, employers could post jobs that provided specific age limitations for job applicants, and these practices essentially barred employees over the age of 65 from applying to nearly all jobs. And while ADEA has prevented such overt discriminatory acts, age discrimination still persists today. In 2016, nearly a quarter of all charges filed with the EEOC contained allegations of age discrimination.
Instead of overt age limitations in postings of the 1960s, age discrimination often takes more subtle forms today. Some common manifestations of age discrimination in the workplace are when employers express interest in bringing in “new energy” or “fresh faces” to a company, when managers ask questions about an older employer’s retirement plans, younger employees being given more challenging projects or more leadership opportunities, or when employers are more lenient when disciplining younger employees.
Is Age Discrimination an Issue in Your Industry?
Certain industries, particularly the tech field, are more prone to claims of age discrimination. In the tech-industry, where newness and innovation is celebrated, it may be particularly difficult for older employees to overcome the stereotype that they cannot keep up with fast developments or are not savvy enough to compete with younger colleagues.
Inappropriate age-related comments and troubling patterns in hiring, terminations, and discipline can lay the groundwork for an age discrimination claim under the ADEA. In Minnesota, employees have additional protections under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) prohibits all employers from using age as a reason to refuse to hire or fire an individual over the age of 18.
Questions About Age Discrimination?
If you believe that you are being treated differently by your employer because of you age, we encourage you to seek legal counsel. At Schaefer Halleen, LLC, we have extensive experience in advocating on behalf of victims of age discrimination.