A 1967 federal law protects job applicants and employees age 40 and older against age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) states that employers with 20 or more employees may not discriminate in hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, terms or conditions because of age. They also may not indicate age preferences in job ads or retaliate against individuals for complaining about age discrimination.
Here are some scenarios prohibited by the ADEA: The interviewer looks at a candidate’s background and says, “I’m sure that you won’t be interested in this position with your experience?it’s an entry-level job.”
The hiring manager questions a candidate about her plans for retirement, emphasizing that the company wants to maximize its investment in training.
An employer starts to bring in younger employees to take over certain aspects of older employees’ jobs, assuming without justification that the older employees will retire in the near future.
An executive who inherited an older secretary from a predecessor complains that she is “too set in her ways.” The executive resorts to harassment, such as giving her burdensome work, until the secretary’s job is so unbearable that she quits.
Adapted from Age Discrimination on the Job, published by AARP. (c) 2001 by AARP. Reprinted by permission.