Employees in Minnesota are protected from age discrimination under both federal and state laws. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) is the federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are 40 years of age or older on the basis of age. Under state law, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) prohibits age discrimination in employment and expands protection beyond the ADEA to include all people who have reached the “age of majority,” which Minnesota defines as 18 years of age or older.
Discrimination Against Younger Employees
Although age discrimination is generally thought of in terms of older workers, Minnesota employers are prohibited under the MHRA from discriminating against younger individuals on the basis of age. For example, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a 20-year-old for a position merely because the individual is perceived as “too young.”
The MHRA prohibits an employer, because of an applicant or employee’s age, from:
- refusing to hire or maintain a system of employment that unreasonably excludes a person seeking employment;
- discharging an employee; or
- discriminating against a person with respect to hiring, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities, or privileges of employment.
Workplace Harassment Based on Age
It is also illegal to harass a person because of his or her age. Although off-hand remarks may not be considered sufficient to constitute harassment based on age, the harassment may become illegal when it is so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the employee’s employment and create an abusive working environment.
If you believe you have been discriminated by an employer or prospective employer because of your age, contact our Minnesota employment attorneys to discuss whether you may have a legal claim. Our workplace discrimination lawyers will diligently fight to ensure that your rights are protected.