Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

In 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits forbids employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or above. This law is mandated on employers who have, at least, 20 employees. Through ADEA, the following are, likewise, prohibited:

  • Discrimination against job applicants and employees in hiring, wage, job promotion, termination of employment and layoffs
  • Mention of age preference and limitations in job advertisements
  • Denial of fringe benefits to older employees

ADEA addresses the problem of age discrimination that has been prevalent for so long. This age-old concern of the

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) partly stems from employers’ belief that older workers are usually over-qualified, harder to train, are not as agile and active as younger individuals, and are prone to bailing out as soon as a better job offer is given them.

According to the website of employment law firm Cary Kane, LLP, besides prohibiting discriminatory acts based on age, ADEA also prohibits harassment of older employees, which may be committed, for example, through offensive and/or unpleasant remarks regarding a person’s age. While simple and light teasing are not prohibited by any law, these acts, if done frequently and result to the creation of an offensive or hostile work environment, lead to unfavorable employment decisions, such as demotion or firing of the older employee, can be considered harassment and, thus, a violation of the mandates of ADEA.

In cases wherein a job advertisement specifies an age limit, resulting to the actual hiring of a younger individual instead of an older applicant, so long as age is a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) for the job, such as a young adult role in a play, then the inclusion of the age limit and the hiring of the younger applicant become legally acceptable.

There are many employers, however, who persist in their practice of hiring younger job applicants and, thus, may be committing a violation of ADEA in the process. Those who feel and believe that they have been discriminated due to their age can seek legal advice to correctly determine if they, indeed, have been subjected to such discriminatory act.