Understanding the ins and outs of age discrimination in employment doesn’t necessarily take a legal degree, but it does take a whole lot of common sense. The law enacted in the 1960s is designed to protect employees age 40 and over from age discrimination in employment, it is not designed to penalize employers from getting the business they need done completed.
To help employees and employers understand some of the basics about age discrimination in employment it is important to understand some of the most common questions that come up in regard to the law and their answers.
What is age discrimination?
Simply put, age discrimination in employment involves any unfair act or practice that discriminates against a person based on their age. It is unlawful to base a hiring, firing or promotional decision based on age.
Is anyone exempt from the law?
Yes. The age discrimination in employment laws apply to companies and employers that have 20 or more employees on staff. It is still generally considered quite wise for small employers to ensure the law is adhered to, as well. The law applies to employment agencies, labor organizations and government bodies, as well.
Is there ever a cause for an exception to the rule?
In some employment situations the age discrimination in employment laws will not apply based on the nature of the work. The onus to prove age needs to be a factor in decision making falls on the employer.
What should an employee do when discrimination is suspected?
Complaints can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Violations can take place prior to hiring, during the advertising process and in regard to promotions, firings, layoffs and even benefits.
How do benefits relate to age discrimination in employment laws?
A law passed in 1990 makes it illegal for employers to deny benefits to older employees. A reduced package may be offered if the cost to the employer is the same as that for younger employees.
Does the law apply to apprenticeship programs?
Yes. Unless a program has otherwise been exempted from the laws, apprenticeship programs are subject to its reach.
Is it legal for a potential employer to ask a candidate’s age?
The practice is not prohibited under law, but it can open the door for scrutiny if a complaint is filed. Generally, employers choose not to ask date of birth or age prior to the actual hiring process.
Understanding the age discrimination in employment laws can help employees recognize problems. It can also protect employers. Before hiring or going out for a job, it is not a bad idea to consider brushing up on the laws that govern employment.