The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 actually has it roots in the Civil Rights Act that became law three years earlier. The Civil Rights Act includes Title VII which states that discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, sex, religion and national origin must be banned, but age was not included at that time.
In 1967, the US Labor Department completed its study on the pervasiveness of age discrimination and found that it was a problem. Congress reacted with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. It protected workers aged 40 to 65. This breakthrough law would be updated as needed through the years and will undoubtedly see changes in the future. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the major changes to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
In 1978 President Jimmy Carter transferred enforcement of the ADEA to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That same year, Congress extended the limit of protection to the age of 70. It wouldn’t be until nine years later that the upper age limit would be removed, protecting all older citizens from discrimination, no matter what age.
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 amended all the major civil rights laws in the nation, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. This act overturned several recent decisions by the Supreme Court that made it difficult for age biased plaintiffs to win their cases. However, the Supreme Court did rule for them in the case of O’Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp.
In 1996, stating that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 doesn’t require an employee that was fired to prove that his replacement was under the age of 40. Four years later, however, the Supreme Court seemed to go against those that have suffered from age discrimination once again, stating that state government agencies are protected by the Constitution from being sued for money damages.
The year 2002 saw close to 20,000 complaints of age discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which was an all time record. The prime factors for these many complaints are usually considered to be the combination of a slumping economy and a workforce that is growing older, what with the “Baby Boom” generation starting to reach retirement age. Only one year later, the EEOC won the biggest age discrimination settlement in history, totaling $250 million in back pay for 1,700 public safety officers in California.
Several changes have been made over the last forty years to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and not all of them have necessarily been beneficial to those that suffer from age discrimination. As society changes with time, there will undoubtedly be changes made to this act in the future.