How does federal law address age discrimination in the workplace?

How does federal law address age discrimination in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2022 | Employment Law

You may have worked a long time in your industry, and it is hoped that your years of experience are considered a valuable asset in the workplace. After all, you have a lot of knowledge to pass on to younger workers. Still, what happens if you are passed up for promotions due to your age or are repeatedly referred to as a “dinosaur” by younger workers? If you are treated unfairly at work as an older employee, you will want to know what your rights are.

Federal law prohibits age discrimination

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) workers age 40 or older are granted the right to be free from age discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination takes place when a worker is treated unfavorably due to their age.

Adverse employment actions based on age include:

  • Not hiring a worker due to that worker’s age
  • Laying off workers or firing them based on age
  • Not promoting workers based on age
  • Assigning less favorable job opportunities looking at the worker’s age, and
  • Not offering all the usual benefits to workers based on age

It is also against federal law to harass a worker based on that worker’s age. Mere teasing or the occasional offhand remark may not rise to the level of harassment. However, continued derogatory remarks about a worker’s age do reach the level of unlawful harassment if they are so frequent and severe as to make the workplace intolerable to the victim of the harassment or if the harassment leads to an adverse employment action.

Know your rights when it comes to age discrimination

Age discrimination can sometimes be tricky to spot. For example, the ADEA does not prohibit favoring an older worker over a younger one. This is true even if both parties are more than 40-years-old. In addition, age discrimination can take place even if both parties are age 40 or older.

Still, it is important that older workers are respected and treated fairly. If you are concerned that you may have been subjected to age discrimination in the workplace, you will want to seek the assistance you need to learn more about your rights.