Age Discrimination - What Supervisors Need to Know
Excerpts taken from The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "Training and Technical Assistance Program 2002" and online at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html
Q & A: Age Discrimination - What Practices Are Discriminatory?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older.
It is illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including:
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment - including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Theories of Discrimination
It is generally unlawful for apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs, to discriminate on the basis of an individual's age. Age limitation in apprenticeship programs are valid only if they fall within certain specific exceptions under the ADEA or if the EEOC grants a specific exemption.
Job Notices and Advertisement
The ADEA makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specification in job notices or advertisement. As a narrow exception to that general rule, a job notice or advertisement may specify an age limit in the rare circumstances where age is shown to be a "bona fide occupational qualification" (BFOC) reasonably necessary to the essence of the business.
The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant's age or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees. An employer may reduce benefits based on age only if the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.