The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is part of a statutory scheme protecting employees over 40 years old against discrimination in the workplace nationwide. The ADEA which was passed by Congress in December of 1967 points out the disadvantage of older workers in retaining employment or regaining employment when displaced from jobs. The ADEA addresses arbitrary age limits which were commonplace at the time of its passage, and embodies congressional recognition that older workers are particularly at risk for long term unemployment. Congress further recognized the undesirable effects of long term unemployment including deterioration of skill, morale and employer acceptability.
Purpose of ADEA
Congress passed the ADEA to address the practice of employment discrimination against older workers, and especially to redress the difficulty such workers faced in obtaining new employment after being released from their jobs. The ADEA’s stated purpose, therefore, is;
Organizations Covered by ADEA
The ADEA’s prohibitions against age discrimination apply to employers, employment agencies and labor organizations. Those protected by the ADEA are individuals who are at least 40 years of age.
Persons Protected by ADEA
The ADEA protects employees age 40 and older. The ADEA defines “employee” as any individual employed by an employer, including U.S. citizens employed in a foreign country. The ADEA protects individuals, not 40 year-olds as a class. Age discrimination is the act of holding an individual’s age against him or her. The ADEA prohibits discrimination on the basis of age and not class membership. The fact that a worker over age 40 is replaced by someone substantially younger is a far more reliable indicator of age discrimination than is the fact the replacement worker is under age 40.
In addition, it is also unlawful to retaliate against an employee for opposing an ADEA violation, filing an ADEA charge, or otherwise participating in enforcement of the ADEA.
The ADEA is part of a statutory scheme protecting employees. Other parts of this scheme include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and numerous state and civil rights laws. Knowledge of these laws and their effect on workers’ rights can be invaluable when navigating the difficult issues associated with employment related claims.
Ryan A. Hintzen
The Hintzen Law Firm, PLLC