Today’s workforce is comprised of baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. A diverse range of employees strengthens the workplace by providing a multitude of perspectives and life experiences. However, it is important to be aware of workplace discrimination. Age discrimination involves treating an employee less favorably because of his or her age.
Federal Protections Against Age Discrimination
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids age discrimination against people who are 40 or older. It does not protect employees under 40. Minnesota state law protects employees who are over 18 from age discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government. The law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are both over 40.
Illegal Age-Related Harassment
It is unlawful to harass a person in the workplace because of his or her age. Harassment can include offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age. Taunting or teasing, such as jibes like “old timer,” “grandpa,” or “OK boomer,” can be perceived as offensive, degrading, and humiliating. The fact that an employee has not complained about ageist taunting or teasing does not necessarily mean that he or she is comfortable with the jokes or behavior in question. Derogatory descriptors associated with advancing age can also be considered an act of age discrimination. Employers should not tolerate comments reflecting issues with mental clarity, physical ability, eyesight, or hearing.
Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Age Discrimination and Harassment Attorneys
If you believe that you have suffered workplace discrimination or harassment due to your age, contact our Minnesota employment attorneys to discuss your employment situation. Our age discrimination attorneys will diligently fight to ensure that your rights are protected.