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Understanding Age Discrimination in Employment

Virtus Law Group, Birmingham, Alabama.



The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is a federal law that protects individuals who are 40 years of age and older from workplace discrimination on the basis of age. These protections apply to employees and job applicants alike. Age discrimination can take place through:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions
  • Discharge (i.e., being replaced by an employee under the age of 40)
  • Compensation (i.e., paying older employees less than younger employees)
  • Benefits
  • Other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment

The ADEA applies to private employers with 20 or more employees. It also applies to state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government.

Discrimination can still occur when the person inflicting the discrimination is over the age of 40.The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant’s age or date of birth. However, it does generally make it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements.

An employment policy or practice that applies to all employees, regardless of their age, can still be deemed illegal if it has a negative impact on applicants or employees ages 40 or older and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age. An employment practice is based on a reasonable factor of age when it was reasonably designed and administered to achieve a legitimate business purpose in light of the circumstances, including its potential harm to older workers. Whether an employment decision is made based on a reasonable factor other than age is decided on a case-by-case basis by looking at the facts of each individual situation.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to provide additional protections to older employees with respect to employee benefits. The OWBPA prohibits discrimination with respect to employee benefits based on age and prohibits employers from offering certain types of severance agreements or early retirement packages if those offers improperly favor younger workers over older ones.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an employee who opposes (i.e., reports) employment practices that discriminate based on age or who files a lawsuit under the ADEA.


The Alabama Age Discrimination in Employment Act (AADEA) is a state law that follows the federal rules against age discrimination. However, under the state law, an employee is not required to pursue any administrative action (i.e., filing a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC) in order to bring a private lawsuit.

If you have been unlawfully discriminated against by your employer, reach out to our firm today for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama Virtus Law Group is a Personal Injury and Labor and Employment firm serving the people of Alabama.




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