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What Is Age Discrimination In The Workplace?


It’s no secret that some employers prefer younger workers. Older workers can be set in their ways. They may be unwilling to learn new skills or technology. If they have been with the company for a long time, they may be earning some of the company’s highest salaries.

Regardless of how an employer feels about their older workers, they cannot discriminate against them. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), employers are forbidden from discriminating against people who are over the age of 40. Workers under the age of 40 are not covered under the ADEA. Also, the law does not make it illegal for an employer to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both are over the age of 40. An incident can still be considered discrimination if both parties are over the age of 40.

When Does the ADEA Apply?

The ADEA applies to companies with at least 20 employees, labor organizations with at least 25 members, state, local, and federal governments, and employment agencies. Age discrimination is illegal in all aspects of employment, including job postings, interviews, salaries, hiring, performance evaluation, raises, training, promotions, discipline, benefits, layoffs, and termination.

Age Harassment

Harassment against a person over the age of 40 is also illegal. While the law does not penalize sporadic teasing, it does make it illegal for a person to make offensive or derogatory remarks about someone else’s age. When the harassment is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment, it is considered illegal. The harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, or customer.

Examples of Age Discrimination

Here are some ways in which an employer may be engaging in age discrimination:

  • Hiring only younger employees. This practice is especially common in the IT industry, where companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple try to hire employees under the age of 35.
  • Passed over for a promotion. If a promotion was given to a younger employer with little experience instead of you, an older worker with decades of experience, then it may be considered age discrimination.
  • Being encouraged to retire. Some companies offer early retirement packages to older workers in an effort to get them to leave the company.
  • Positions are eliminated. If the positions of older workers are starting to get eliminated, but younger workers are replacing the jobs, this could be age discrimination.
  • Older workers are getting laid off. While layoffs happen in many companies, the layoffs should not be happening to only older workers. Younger workers should be involved as well.

Seek Legal Help

Employers should hire, fire, and make other employment decisions based on a person’s skills and qualifications, not their age. An employer that discriminates or harasses employees based on age can be sued and forced to pay damages.

Fort Lauderdale business litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can handle a wide range of employment disputes, including those involving discrimination. To schedule a consultation with our office, fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330.



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