top-rated free essay

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

By yungwil56 Dec 13, 2005 1069 Words
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), signed and enacted in 1967, aims to protect individuals forty or older from discriminatory practices based on age in the workplace. Private employers with 20 or more employers are subject to the provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Labor organizations, employment agencies, and federal, state, and local governments must also follow the guidelines of the ADEA. The essential purpose of the ADEA is to eliminate the prejudices that haunt older workers in the job market, and provide a remedy for persons who have been affected in the workplace due to their age. Likewise, the legislators who oversaw the drafting of the ADEA acknowledged that if the negative stereotyping persists regarding the ability and skills of older workers, then the national economy would dramatically suffer because displaced older workers would increase the need for unemployment benefits and government assistance. Moreover, discrimination based on age has a tremendous emotional cost on the spirit and esteem of the individuals affected. Furthermore, there is no evidence that supports the claim that an older worker will not perform as well in the workplace as a younger worker. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the regulatory agency responsible for investigating and managing age discrimination claims that arise under the ADEA.

Employers are prohibited from doing a number of things according to the terms of the Act. Employers cannot fail or refuse to hire an employee because of that person's age. They cannot limit, segregate, or classify its employees in a way that would deprive someone of employment opportunities because of their age. Also, they cannot reduce the wage rate of an employee based on their age. Finally, employers cannot indicate in notices or job advertisements a preference for a person of a certain age. Victims of age discrimination are subject to remedies found in the ADEA. These remedies include back pay, hiring, promotion, reinstatement, front pay, liquidated damages, or other legal or equitable remedies that are deemed necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute. Additionally, the statute permits award for attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and court costs.

A couple of years back, a Denver news reporter was subject to age discrimination and took his employer to court. David Minshall had been a reporter with a Denver television station for 17 years when owner McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Company decided not to renew his contract in March 1997. At the time that they decied not to renew his contract, David was in his fifties. During the trial, McGraw-Hill presented evidence that its decision not to renew David's contract was based on poor performance and not that of age. Specifically, they said he had poorly written scripts, tardiness, and unethically disclosing the identity of a confidential informant. Minshall then countered with a co-worker's testimony that his scripts were no worse than any other reporter's. He stated that he had never been told that his spelling or punctuality were problems or grounds for termination. The jury found that the television station violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and awarded David Minshall back pay, front pay and liquidated damages in excess of half a million dollars.

Larry Lorber, a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP had this to say about the ADEA.

How is ADEA case law changing?
As the law develops under the ADEA, you're finding more mature issues which haven't been faced yet. These issues just haven't come up because even though the ADEA is 35 years old, it's a more limited statute: You can't discriminate on the basis of age. But now the United States has an aging workforce. We're also, in this economy, seeing the need to cut payrolls and how that applies to employees' age. All those issues which never really had a face in many respects are now coming out. So we're finding that more subtle issues concerning benefits are coming to light. We're also seeing disparate impact as applied to the age act becoming a major issue. How does a disparate-impact claim come up under the ADEA?

When companies go through major layoffs, they often try to eliminate people at higher pay levels. The employees who generally hold those positions are age 40 or older. So if these older workers get laid off disproportionately to younger workers, they may make a disparate-impact claim. The issue right now is, does the ADEA recognize a course of action under disparate impact? Last year, the Supreme Court agreed to review a circuit court case filed against Florida Power. It would have been helpful in giving some answers about what ADEA does and does not cover. The issue was: When a layoff occurs and it turns out that older workers were disproportionately terminated, is there a case under the ADEA for disparate impact? Ultimately the Supreme Court decided not to review the case, but the question remains. What has the trend been so far concerning this issue?

Courts have said that even though older people tend to get paid more, job reductions directed at limiting payroll costs are not necessarily [linked to] age discrimination. You can't necessarily make the connection between higher salary and age for purposes of ADEA. But the issue is sitting there, waiting for some final ruling by the Supreme Court as to what it really means. How can HR professionals avoid problems under the ADEA while these issues get sorted out? If you're going to make changes in policies, try to ensure that you have a justifiable business basis for the change before you enact it. So if you're going to try to cut payroll, make sure you have records showing you're making the cut for specific business reasons. This may insulate you against a disparate-impact claim. [It shows that the cuts are part of an overall business plan rather than an attempt to weed out older workers.] As you work with your benefits advisers, you need to be cognizant of the ADEA--that it can and does apply to a wide range of issues.
Works Cited

"Age Discrimination in Employment Act." Wikipedia. 6 Dec. 2005 .

Clark, Margaret M. "Loose lips sank ship - Court Report - age discrimination." HR Magazine June 2003. 6 Dec. 2005 .

Lorber, Larry. Interview. Oct. 2002. 6 Dec. 2005

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Employment Discrimination

    ...February 2014Employment Discrimination Research Paper Employment Law governs the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in the workplace. Also referred to as labor law, these rules are designed to keep workers safe and make sure they are treated fairly, as well as to protect employers’ interests. The common law rules of employ...

    Read More
  • Age discrimination

    ...Discrimination against older worker occurs so often that Congress made an act to protect older workers from discrimination; this helps prevent increased unemployment for those older than 40 years of age. In 1967, congress made the Age Discrimination in Employment Act for the purpose of promoting the employment of older workers based on their abi...

    Read More
  • Age Discrimination Essay 9

    ...Stereotypes about older people are a bound in our culture, but employers are not allowed to indulge in them when making workplace decisions. Manifestations of age discrimination can be subtle or blatant. Typical actions might include refusing to hire or promote older workers, curtailing their employee benefits, limiting their training opportunit...

    Read More
  • Age and Disability defined ageism as discrimination directed towards age. It is discrimination and prejudice against people of specific ages, especially in the workplace. Ageism is not mean prejudice or discrimination from the elder. “Ageism research has shown that women are likely to experience before 21 and over 40, while men will experience it under ...

    Read More
  • Employee Discrimination in the Workplace

    ...Employee Discrimination in the Workplace Law/531 – Business Law December 19, 2011 Employee Discrimination in the Workplace Throughout history our world has been forced to change the laws that govern us to keep up with how we evolve as a society. What was prevalent in the fifties is not the case in today’s time. Specifically the America...

    Read More
  • Equal Employment Opportunity History and Laws

    ...head: Equal Employment Opportunity History and Laws Equal Employment Opportunity History and Laws Nickki LaCour Grand Canyon University: AMP-434 Human Resources December 1, 2011 Equal Employment Opportunity History and Laws Many of us have heard of or have been made aware of the phrase Equal Employment Opportunity (E...

    Read More
  • employment laws chart

    ... Employment Laws Chart Complete the chart below using information from the weekly readings and additional research if necessary. Employment Law Description and Requirement of Law Court Case Influential to Establishment of Law Importance of Law Workplace Application Civil Rights Act of 1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1...

    Read More
  • Chapter 3: Equal Employment Opportunity & Human Resources Management

    ...Key Terms • Equal Employment Opportunity: The treatment of individuals in all aspects of employment. • Protected Classes: Individuals of a minority race, women, older people, and those with disabilities who are covered by federal laws on equal employment opportunity. • Bona Fide Occupational Qualification: Suitable defense against a dis...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.