Most people in Minnesota are familiar with lawsuits that are based on allegations of race or gender discrimination in the workplace, but some are less familiar with the fact that discrimination based on a person’s age can be illegal as well. So, what is age discrimination and how does it violate the law?
Well, for starters, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes age discrimination as an act in which an employer discriminates against a current or potential employee based solely on that person’s age. For instance, the employer may illegally make hiring or firing decisions based on the person’s age, or make decisions about which employees to promote based solely on a person’s age. The idea is that the employer might select a younger employee over an older employee, for any number of subtle perceptions about the older employee’s capabilities or future with the employer.
There are other instances in which an employer may commit age discrimination. For example, the employer may make decisions about which employees to send to particular types of training, or about particular conditions or terms of employment, based solely on the age of the employees in question. In some of the worst-case scenarios, age discrimination will manifest in the workplace as harassment or disparaging remarks toward an older employer, resulting in a hostile work environment.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a federal law which makes it illegal for employers to commit or allow their employees to commit discriminatory acts based on a person’s age. This federal law specifically provides protections for employees who are over 40 years of age.