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50 years after the ADEA, age discrimination is still an issue

Older workers in Minnesota bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the workplace,. Unfortunately, some employers view them as "dinosaurs," too expensive and out-of-touch to either hire or keep around. However, under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act or ADEA, employers who have at least 20 employees cannot discriminate against any worker between the ages of 40 to 65 in hiring workers, promoting workers, laying off workers or other employment actions. In fact, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of this law.

For example, before the law was implemented, one expert testified that about 50 percent of job openings at the time outright excluded applicants over age 55. These days, such overt discrimination in general doesn't take place. For example, older workers cannot be solely targeted when it an employer decides to implement layoffs in the workplace.

Despite these laws, age discrimination still exists. For example, employers might be hesitant to hire older workers. In addition, in 2016 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC received over 20,000 formal claims of discrimination based on age. While this is down from the over 24,000 claims of discrimination based on age filed with the EEOC in 2008, it is still a significant number. Moreover, according to one study that examined hiring and age discrimination, those under age 50 who applied for jobs were 40 percent more likely to obtain an interview than older workers with the same qualifications.

In addition, the atmosphere in many workplaces still allows for ageist comments and jokes, when jokes and comments against other protected categories such as race would not be tolerated. In fact, according to one survey, over 70 percent of employees between 57-years-old and 64-years old reported either seeing or experiencing age discrimination while on-the-job.

As the U.S. workforce ages, age discrimination will continue to be an issue in the workplace. Workers in Minneapolis who believe they have been the victims of age discrimination in the workplace may want to research what opportunities they have for recourse. An employment law attorney can help explain what a worker's rights are in such situations, so the worker can make an informed decision on what actions to take moving forward.

Source: Forbes, "The Age Discrimination Law At 50: A Mixed Bag," Chris Farrell, Feb. 14, 2017

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