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Although over fifty (“50”) years has passed since the establishment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), age discrimination still occurs in the workplace and in hiring practices, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and numerous studies.
“Age discrimination is alive and well in the digital age, despite 50 years of laws intended to protect older Americans’ right to work. In fact, it’s thriving, with 20,857 such complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 alone, AARP states on its website.
At a meeting held in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the ADEA in 2017, officials told the
EEOC that “[p]ersistent age discrimination and stereotypes about older workers continue to channel older workers out of the workforce, limiting further economic growth. With so many more people working and living longer, we can’t afford to allow age discrimination to waste the knowledge, skills, and talent of older workers,” according to the EEOC.
A recent study that looked at more than 40,000 job applicant profiles found statistical evidence of age discrimination in hiring—discrimination against both women and men. Older applicants—those 64 to 66 years of age—experience more age discrimination than middle-age applicants ages 49 to 51, while women—especially older women, even those of middle age—experience more age discrimination in hiring than men do, the study indicated.
The ADEA, established in 1967, forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older, according to the EEOC
Specifically, according to the ADEA, the following is prohibited:
According to AARP, the ADEA applies to:
Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are both over 40. In addition, the harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, or someone who may not necessarily be an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer, according to the EEOC.
Many states have additional age discrimination laws, some of which apply to employers with fewer than 20 employees. In Texas, for example, state age discrimination laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees. In New York State, the number is four or more employees.
Employers should ensure that they have updated policies and procedures in place to prevent age discrimination in the workplace and in their hiring practices. According to AARP, employers should be aware that they cannot:
It should also be noted that employers should not ask employees questions about race, sex, disability, religion and national origin, among others, rights covered under the Title VII (civil rights), Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Pay Act and GINA (Genetic Nondiscrimination Act).
Employers should seek a labor and employment attorney to review their current workplace and hiring practices to ensure that they comply with all federal and state laws regarding age as well as all other forms of discrimination.