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 ability instead of their age. This act applies to employment by public and private employers and by the unions and employment agencies, as well as foreign companies that have more than 20 workers located here in the United States.
In 1967 the act covered employees between the ages of 40 and 65, the upper limit was extended 70 in 1978 and then the limit was removed completely later on. Now there is no longer an upper age limit, a 79 year old may be just as qualified as a 30 year old and should have the opportunity to prove her or his qualifications and obtain employment base on them. Another issue with this act is mandatory retirement; for the most part this has become a thing of the past. It should also be mentioned that people are living longer lives today and this act will become more and more critical for the working employees in this country.
Title VII and the Age Discrimination act are similar in several ways, and both are enforced by the EEOC. But these two acts are different in two important ways; The Age Discrimination In Employment Act is more lenient than Title VII regarding the latitude afforded employer’s reasons for adverse employment decisions (). The Age Discrimination In Employment act allows an employer to argue that a prima facie of age discrimination by identifying any factors other than age that has helped make the decision. The other difference is the Age Discrimination in Employment act only protects employees that are over 40 years of age from discrimination. So, a person under 40 cannot file a claim under this act based on the claim that he or she was too young. But there are some states that have laws that could be described as reverse discrimination in situations like this.
In an Age discrimination case there are several different questions and points that must be answered. The following will help describe some of this key issues in a case like this.
· The employee feels that he or she has been discriminated against because of the employee’s age. The employee may file an action against the employer under the ADEA and prove age discrimination. The employee must establish the following four elements to prove to the court that she or he has a claim for age discrimination.
· The employee must prove that he or she was demoted or fired because they were 40 years or older. They simply must prove that they are older than 40 years of age, therefore making themselves a member of a protected class.
· Adverse employment action taken against the employee, this is proof that the employer made an employment decision that adversely affected the employee in question. This could include a decision not to hire the applicant or even fire the employee.
· Another thing the employee must prove is that he or she is qualified for the position. The position requirements must be proven and not just devised for the purpose of terminating or refusing to hire older workers. The employee must show that he or she can perform their duties at a high level or they may face not being able to continue with their claim.
· Disclaimer Treatment, this requires an employer to explain there actions if they terminate of refuses to hire an older qualified employee, while at the same time hiring a younger person. This requirement has presented difficulty for the courts.
· Employers say in the matter, this is where the employer must prove that they did not hire or terminated an older employee because of other reasons. The burden of proof now shifts to the employer to present a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for their actions against the employee. They must prove that there are good reasons for their actions.
· The EEOC identifies what an employer must prove in an age discrimination case brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment act as; the age limit is reasonably necessary to the essence of the employer’s business. All or most all of the individuals over that age are unable to perform the job’s requirement adequately or some of the people over that age posses a disqualifying trait that cannot be ascertained except by reference to the age of the employee. This element of proof allows an employer to exclude an older worker from a position that may be unsafe to some older workers. This information can be obtained by OSAH databases that have included worker age as being part of the reasoning for their actions.
· Disparate treatment and disparate impact.
One court case that has helped define this act is the case of Steen v. Sun Oil Company. Paul Steen was discharged by Sun Oil Company after working for them for 19 years. Steen claimed that that he was fired because of his age, but Sun Oil rebuts by standing that Steen’s discharge was necessary action in the company’s overall reorganization process. Steen had statistics that proved that an average age of employees retained was 35 and the average of the employees that were let go was 48. Steen also had a letter from the company that stated a plan of the reorganization would be ” a better age distribution of executive personnel”. This court case is similar to many that have used the Age and Discrimination in Employment act as grounds for suit in court cases.
One recommendation that I would have for management to follow is not to have interest in the age of employees. If they can perform the job at a high level then they are good enough to remain a part of the company. I have seen in many cases in the job I have now of where many of the most valuable employees are often those over the age of 50. They are often the employees with the most experience and act as a teacher to the younger employees.