Older workers in Minnesota are a valuable asset to their employers, as they can provide their wisdom and years of experience to others in the workplace. Unfortunately, some employers do not have this attitude about older workers. Perhaps they want to cut costs, and younger workers may not be paid as much as those with more seniority. Or they may have prejudices against older workers, viewing them in an unfavorable light. However, the U.S. Government recognizes that age discrimination in the workplace should not be tolerated, and has enacted laws against it.
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) provides job protection to workers age 40 or above. Workers age 40 and above cannot be subject to age discrimination. For example, a worker cannot be overlooked for a promotion because of their age, be given unfavorable job assignments or be let go from their job due to their age.
However, the ADEA provides protection not just to those currently employed, but also to people in other circumstances. For example, if a person is in an apprenticeship program, in general it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on that person’s age. Keep in mind, however, under the ADEA there are very limited exceptions to this general rule.
Also, under the ADEA, a job advertisement cannot include age preferences. There is one exception to this: if it is a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ). However, a BFOQ must be reasonably necessary for the employer to continue operating his or her business as normal.
When it comes to applying for a job, the ADEA does technically allow employers to ask job applicants how old they are or when they were born. That being said, since such questions could have a “chilling effect” on older workers applying for a job, and since such questions might indicate that the employer may possibly commit age discrimination, these types of questions are closely scrutinized to ensure they do not run afoul of the ADEA.
As you can see, the ADEA protects not only workers, but those in apprenticeship programs and, in certain ways, job applicants as well. If a person believes they have been discriminated against based on their age, whether they are a job applicant, an apprentice or an employee, they may want to research what their rights are in such situations.
Source: FindLaw, “Equal Employment Opportunity: Age Discrimination,” Accessed Dec. 23, 2016