Posted by JEFF WINTERS. OurExperienceCounts.com
Last year there were 24,582 age discrimination cases received by the EEOC (The Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission). The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects workers who are 40 and older from employment discrimination based on age. These protections apply to both employees and job applicants. It is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation.
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
The law actually permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees. The ADEA generally makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements. A job notice or advertisement may specify an age limit only in the rare circumstances where age is shown to be a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation 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 answer to the question regarding your protection is yes, but age discrimination remains a serious problem for older workers.
Jeff winters is the founder and CEO of OurExpecienceCounts.com, "The Community for the Mature Job Seeker."