For the last several decades, Americans have enjoyed strong protections against age discrimination, codified largely in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Prior to the passage of the ADEA, workers in many fields found themselves pushed out simply because younger workers rose up to fill their positions. With the protections afforded in the ADEA, workers have tools to protect their rights as they age in the workforce and potentially experience discrimination because of it.
If you have concerns about your employer's attitude toward your age, it is wise to understand the boundaries of what an employer can and cannot do in regard to your age. A strong grasp of the law and high-quality legal resources may offer the guidance you need at a crucial moment in your career.
Employer restrictions under the ADEA
While employers do retain many freedoms in how they manage employees, the ADEA restricts them from discriminating against any employee or potential employee based on their age.
This may take many forms. For instance, an employer cannot list age restrictions or use age restrictions as a consideration during the hiring process, and cannot simply fire an employee because of their age. In fact, an employer may not make employment, training or termination decisions based on age, with very few exceptions.
It is also important to know that employers may not retaliate against you if you report age discrimination. Retaliation may cost the employer thousands of dollars in fines and may result in other punishments from the courts if it deems it necessary, such as reinstalling you to a job after an employer removes you for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
ADEA protects your benefits
One of the greatest issues of contention for many employers is keeping aging employees included in benefits. Considering the skyrocketing cost of health care in America, many aging employees depend on their employers' benefits package to afford medical care, while employers may wish to exclude them from medical benefits to keep the overall costs down.
Fortunately, with very few exceptions, employers cannot deny an aging worker benefits because of their age. It is legal, however, to limit the amount spent on each employee, where a younger employee can obtain more coverage for the same dollar figure, so keep this in mind as you review your benefits and the way your employer disperses them.
Protect yourself with a strong legal strategy
If you believe that your employer discriminates against you based on your age, do not wait to build a sturdy legal strategy. Carefully constructed legal protections help keep your dignity and rights secure while you fight to make the workplace more just for all workers, regardless of age.