In 1967, congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to protect older workers from discrimination in the workplace due to their age. While this was a major move toward federal worker protections, sadly, harassment and bias due to age still occur in many industries.
In a recent survey by the AARP, two out of three workers over the age of 45 reported age-related discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination against a person because of their age is called ageism.
No one should have to deal with harassment, bullying, or discrimination. Fortunately, the law is on your side if you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination.
The following are five common examples of age discrimination in the workplace.
1. Not Hiring Because of Age
Most employers cannot include age requirements and cannot refuse qualified candidates a job due to their age.
The only legal disqualification that allows age to be a factor in hiring decisions is called a “bona fide occupation qualification” (BFOQ).
Under BFOQ rules, employers in very specific situations can discriminate against age. These rules apply to:
- Bus drivers and airplane pilots must retire by a certain age due to safety standards
- Actors and models cast in roles that call for a specific age
The situations in which BFOQ rules apply are the exceptions, not the rule. In the majority of cases, age cannot and should not be utilized to determine job qualification.
If you determine that an employer discriminated against you due to your age and denied you employment, you can file a claim against their illegal hiring practice.
2. Age-Related Termination or Layoff
Periodically, companies may downsize or overhaul their organizations. When this happens, senior employees can be easy targets for layoffs.
Wrongful termination due to age is illegal under federal labor laws. If you believe you were targeted for a layoff due to your age, you have every legal right to file a complaint.
3. Pressuring Employees to Retire Early
Some employers try to force or pressure older employees to retire early. Under federal labor statutes, no one can coerce you into early retirement.
It is illegal for any business owner or human resources department to offer incentive packages to persuade older employees into leaving the company and taking early retirement.
4. Reducing Benefits for Older Employees
Since congress passed the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act in 1990, it has been illegal for an employer to deny or reduce any benefits to their employees due to their age.
This federal law requires companies to pay benefits equally, and age cannot be an excuse to reduce or take away benefits. The benefits that apply to the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act include:
- Disability benefits
- Pensions and retirement plans
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
Only in certain situations can companies reduce some benefits, such as when an employee receives government assistance or coverage for specific services.
Consulting with a knowledgeable employment law attorney can help you determine whether you have been the victim of age discrimination involving cuts in your benefits package at work.
5. Harassment and Bullying Due to Age
Targeted bullying is never acceptable. Employers and colleagues who single out and bully others based on their age can be held accountable for their behavior, and anyone has the legal right to file age discrimination claims.
Consult with a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer
NJ Employment Lawyers represent employment law cases throughout New Jersey. If you feel like you have been discriminated against because of your age, you can take legal action and fight to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Get in touch with our team today.