The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967 to prevent discrimination against employees on the basis of age. Employees who felt their careers stopped advancing after they reached the age of 40 were given some respite. The Act prohibited employers from following discriminatory practices against older employees. The law is not completely understood by the employers or employees; it does not give older employees the freedom to do as they please, nor is it detrimental to the progress of the company or business. It allows the employer to make decisions based on performance, skills and abilities of the employee, even though it does protect the employee from decisions that are uncalled-for. The Act does not serve as an impediment in the running of the business not does it punish the employer.
The employers are prohibited from the following practices as per the Age Discrimination in Employment Act:
– Discrimination in terms of age with regard to promotion, hiring, wages, training opportunities, assignments, benefits or layoffs.
– Refusal to give equal benefits to employees due to age, unless a reduced benefit package for old employees costs the same as that offered to young employees.
– Taking disciplinary action against any employee who files a claim of age discrimination or if he takes part in an ongoing investigation of another employee.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is applicable to all those organizations that have more than 20 employees. A few exceptions to the rule may exist, where some companies are within their rights to recruit, promote or lay off employees based on age. Such type of employers must prove a ‘bona fide’ occupational qualification. It is usually applicable to jobs that are exceedingly physical in nature. Even though the Act provides protection to employees, they still need to prove their worth for the job. The Employer retains the right to fire the worker with just cause, so long as the age factor does not play a part in the decision.
Employees or workers who are a victim of age discrimination have a number of options to redress the issue. A claim can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to sort out the problem, or an attorney can be hired to do so. The local level offices in most of the states handle such type of claims.
The Employers can adopt the Age Discrimination in Employment Act quite easily, provided their policies and practices are decided based on abilities of the employee and not his age.