The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) is a federal law that protects against age discrimination. Under this law, it is illegal to discriminate, on the basis of age, in any facet of employment. This includes hiring, firing, time off, promotions, training, benefits, etc. The ADEA applies to employers with 20+ employees and protects employees age 40 and over. New York and New Jersey law, however, make reverse age discrimination illegal as well. Employees, 18 and older, are protected by New York and New Jersey state laws.
The ADEA makes it illegal for employers to refer to age in its job advertisements. Employers are not even supposed to say that a certain age is preferred. In addition, employers cannot retaliate against employees who file claims of age discrimination or assist in an age discrimination investigation. Employers are also not permitted to force employees to retire because of their age (with few exceptions).
The ADEA is also designed to protect employees against policies that have the impact of age discrimination. An employer may have a policy in place that appears age-neutral; but for any number of reasons, the policy has a disproportionately negative impact on people of a certain age. If this is the case, the policy is said to have a “disparate impact” on employees; and the employer may have violated ADEA. If the employer can show the policy is (1) based on a “reasonable factor other than age,” and (2) related to a legitimate business purpose, the employer may be justified in its policy. An example of a policy that has a disparate impact would be if a state university had a policy against hiring professors with more than 15 years of experience. The policy does not mention age, but it will likely have the impact of preventing older persons from getting hired.
If your employer has treated you unfairly because of your age, our age discrimination lawyers can help. Call us at (973) 509-8500 to schedule a free phone consultation.