Each year, more and more seniors decide to suspend retirement and reenter the workforce. Should you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know and understand that there are federal laws to protect you from age discrimination on the job.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects both employees and job applicants age 40 and over from discrimination based on age. Employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions must comply with ADEA requirements.
Prohibited activity includes discrimination in hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, layoffs, training, benefits and other conditions of employment which are based upon an employee’s age. Employers are also forbidden from retaliatory actions when an employee files an ADEA complaint.
There are very specific exceptions to the ADEA. One such exception is known as a “Bona Fide Occupational Qualification” (BFOQ). An example of a BFOQ would be when a film director is looking for a ten year old child to play a role in a movie. Job advertisements and announcements cannot include age specifications except when a BFOQ is applicable.
The ADEA was amended in 1990 by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). This amendment protects older workers from being denied benefits based upon their age. While employers can reduce benefits based upon age, they are only allowed to do so under certain circumstances and the reduced benefits must apply to younger employees as well.
Under specific circumstances, an employer may request that an employee waive his/her ADEA rights as part of a settlement. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the requirements for such a waiver include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. The waiver must be in writing and be understandable;
2. It must specifically refer to ADEA rights or claims;
3. The waiver must not waive rights or claims that may arise in the future;
4. The waiver must be in exchange for valuable consideration;
5. It must advise the individual in writing to consult an attorney before signing the waiver; and
6. The waiver must provide the individual at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it.
If you believe you are the victim of employer age discrimination, you are protected. A good start would be to contact an attorney who specializes in ADEA case law. You can also visit This Link for additional information.
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