What is Age Discrimination?


Age discrimination occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or employee unfairly on the basis of his or her age. In general, these protections apply to job applicants and employees who are at least 40 years old.

In Chicago, Illinois, the United States Supreme Court protects workplace employees from age discrimination. Both the hiring and working process are protected, and employers are urged to take care when interacting with all workers. Beneath the Supreme Court’s March 2005 ruling, enables the filing of a lawsuit by any who discriminate against workforce members due to age.

The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act

While March 2005 further enabled employee lawsuit claims due to age discrimination, The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act has been active since 1967. Beneath the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, workers and job applicants over age 40 may not be discriminated against. The discrimination of any person due to any condition, term or privilege of employment, similarly, is unlawful.

Unfortunately, these laws do not protect younger workers from suffering discrimination because of their age.

What is Determined as Discrimination?

Within the workplace, numerous acts may be described as “discrimination.” Nolo.com’s formal list of protected classes is a useful resource, as it covers much of the workforce’s diversity.

  • Hearing your supervisor make derogatory remarks about your age before firing you or denying you a promotion.
  • Layoffs in which the majority of people laid off are older, while younger, less experienced workers were allowed to keep their jobs.
  • Being turned down for a promotion because your supervisor wanted someone “new” or “fresh” from outside the company.
  • Being chosen for a layoff because you are paid more than a younger worker.
  • Receiving a negative job evaluation related to your age.
  • Being passed on for a new position because the recruiter wanted a younger-looking person for the job.
  • Being overlooked for an apprenticeship program based on your age.
  • Seeing an age preference or limitation on a job notice or advertisement.

Age discrimination, in particular, is determined by unfair acts against an employee or applicant. A worker or worker in training submitted to the following due to age, specifically, may file a lawsuit against his or her employer for discrimination:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Compensation
  • Layoff
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Job assignment

Can Employers Ever Make Decisions Based on Age?

In limited circumstances, employers can make age-based decisions without breaking the law. Specifically, if age is an essential component of the job, the employer can use this characteristic to choose an employee. For example, if an employer needs a child actor for a role in a commercial, the employer can deny the position to an older actor based on his or her age.

In addition, the ADEA allows companies to require some high-level executives to retire at age 65, but only if their annual pension benefits will be at least $44,000. Specific exceptions also apply to employees working in air traffic control, fire protection, the police force and federal law enforcement.

Remedies for Victims

If you have been a victim of age discrimination, you may be entitled to front pay, reinstatement of employment, promotion, hiring, back pay and/or liquidated damages. The court may also order the violator to pay your court costs, expert witness fees and attorney fees.

Who is Responsible for Maintaining ADEA Standards?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to both government employers and any private employers managing over 20 labor unions and employees. In every case, the United States Supreme Court manages ADEA applicants falling within governmental brackets. If you are employed within Chicago, Illinois, you are formally protected from any and all age discrimination in the workplace.

The Human Rights Act, too, assists individuals facing age discrimination in the workplace. Beneath the Human Rights Act, no individual or group may be targeted for discrimination based upon age, race or gender.

Who Isn’t Responsible for Maintaining ADEA Standards?

While ADEA standards protect workforce employees from a wide array of business entities, several experience flexibility within the Supreme Court’s rulings. Police employees, fire employees, high level executives and tenured faculty members within universities may be exempt.

Similarly, federal employees, air traffic control personnel and other law enforcement employees may not be protected by ADEA standards. The Illinois State Bar Associates offers additional information about non-covered and exempt individuals.

Consulting an Attorney

While the Supreme Court maintains workforce discrimination standards, law firm assistance may be necessary. If you’ve faced discrimination in the workplace due to age, consult an employment attorney immediately. Additionally, if your employer is exempt from the ADEA in any way, contact a professional provider to obtain legal and fiscal protection.

In several instances, courts have determined that age is, in fact, a bona fide occupational qualification, abbreviated as BFOQ. Some occupations dealing with public safety, in particular, may discriminate against employee age. Disqualification from employment from age does happen, yet employees are always granted the right to an attorney if discrimination takes place.

If you believe you may have been discriminated against because of your age, fill out the form to the right or call Bryan Wood at (866) 629-4679.