The Age Discrimination in Employment Act 50 years later

As the Age Discrimination in Employment Act reaches its 50th anniversary, employment-related age discrimination claims in Indiana and around the country show no sign of abating. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims regarding age discrimination peaked in 2008 at over 24,000. In the past decade, at least 20,000 have been filed annually, and in 2016, there were 20,857 filings.

Employers rarely set arbitrary age limits for jobs any more although this was more of a problem when the act was passed in 1967. However, other age discrimination issues that were a problem 50 years ago still are today. For example, the act mentions that older workers are struggling to keep their jobs as affluence and productivity increase. It also says that older people facing long-term unemployment may struggle to maintain their skill, morale and appeal to employers.

People who are 40 and older are covered by the ADEA. In 1990, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act was added to it. This dealt with requirement in settlements and separation agreements around voluntary waivers of age claims. The purpose of the ADEA is to work with both employees and employers on problems that may arise related to age and employment, to encourage employment based on ability instead of age and to prevent age discrimination.

Age is one category under which workers are protected. Workers are also protected from discrimination based on other characteristics including race, religion, national origin and sex. A person facing discrimination at work might want to discuss the situation with an attorney. One way that an employer might attempt to bypass age or other discrimination laws and demote, fire or deny an employee a promotion is by claiming that the action is based on the employee's performance. Therefore, an attorney may encourage an employee to document interactions including those in which the employer gives positive feedback.

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