Understanding the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 

Woman Writing

If you are an employee and you feel that you are facing discrimination because of your advancing age, you may think that this is simply an inevitable consequence of getting older. However, if you and other older workers at your company are facing wrongful discharge, or if your boss views your age as a burden rather than an asset, you should know that the discrimination you are facing is unlawful under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

What Is the ADEA?

The ADEA is an American labor law that bars employment discrimination against anyone who is aged 40 or older. It covers every stage of the employment process, including:

  • Hiring – Employers must not discriminate based on age while advertising for available positions, during the application process, or in interviews. There is a narrow exception in cases where age is a bona fide occupational qualification.
  • Training – Employers must offer the same training opportunities to older workers as they do to employees who are younger.
  • Benefits – According to an amendment to the ADEA known as the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, employers are generally not allowed to reduce or deny benefits for older employees. There are exceptions in which older workers’ benefits may be reduced if doing so makes the benefits equal to the cost of younger workers’ benefits.
  • Promotion – Older workers may not be denied promotion based on their age.
  • Compensation – Employers must not pay older employees less simply because they are older.
  • Layoffs & Firing – An employer must not discriminate against an older worker when reducing the size of their staff.
  • Early Retirement – Employers must not force their workers to retire early. They may, however, offer early retirement incentive packages.

Proving an Age Discrimination Claim

If you wish to prove that your employer has discriminated against your based on your age, you must:

  • Be aged 40 or older
  • Have experienced adverse employment action
  • Be able to demonstrate signs of age-based discrimination

In some instances, people who have been discriminated against can point to a statement as direct as their boss telling them that they are too old in the context of the direction the company wants to take. It may, however, be more subtle than that, such as a supervisor saying that they would like to make room for people who have more energy. Alternatively, you might simply point to the way that your employer has been treating all of their older workers.

Once you have demonstrated this evidence, your employer will have an opportunity to respond and explain why they believe that the decision was not discriminatory. If you feel that their response was false or simply a pretext, you can rebut them.

Can My Employer Ask Me to Waive My ADEA Rights?

It is legal for an employer to request that you waive your ADEA rights if they offer a severance package or other consideration in exchange. If you choose to waive your rights, the waiver must meet certain specific standards in order to be considered knowing and voluntary:

  • It must be in writing.
  • It must be understandable.
  • It must refer specifically to your ADEA rights or claims.
  • It must not waive any future rights or claims that may arise.
  • It must advise you to speak with an attorney before signing the waiver.
  • It must allow you at least 21 days to think about the waiver and at least seven days to revoke the waiver after having signed it.

Contact an Employee Rights Lawyer

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you due to your age, contact the experienced employee rights attorneys of The Vaughn Law Firm today. We will help you gather the evidence you need to demonstrate that discrimination has taken place. We will also advise you on whether you should accept any ADEA waiver agreement or if we should take legal action on your behalf. We will fight for your best interests every step of the way. We have offices in Washington, D.C. and Georgia to serve you. Contact us today at 877-615-9495 for a consultation.