Which Laws Cover Older Employees?

Many workers often believe as they get older that their employer could fire them just because of their age.

That at one time might have taken place, but today there are both federal and state laws in place to protect those who have been discriminated against at work because of their age.

Federal Law and State Law for Older Employees

Age discrimination means treating an applicant less favorably based on his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against any person who has reached the age of 40 years or older.

It isn’t illegal if an employer favors an older worker over a younger one, even if both of the workers are aged 40 years or more but anyone under the age of 40 is not protected by this law.

The ADEA protects older workers from discrimination in any area of employment which includes hiring, firing, paying, job duties, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

It has also made it unlawful to harass an employee due to his/her age. This covers the making of offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age particularly if it persists over time.

Making just a single offensive comment is not necessarily unlawful but if it occurs so often which makes the whole working environment inhospitable or offensive then it is illegal.

It is not just ADEA that helps to protect older employees but also the states have their own laws in place as well.

Florida’s State Laws For Older Employees

In Florida, employees are protected by both the Florida Civil Rights Act (Florida Statutes Section 760.10) and the ADEA. Under the Florida Civil Rights Act it is unlawful for an employer to fire or refuse to hire an employee based on his or her age.

  There are some extra protections for older employees which include the following:

  • an employer may not limit, segregate, or classify employees or job applicants so that they are deprived of getting a job or their status as an employee has been restricted based on their age; 
  • employment agencies cannot refuse to hire a person because they are an older person ;
  • a labor organization cannot refuse membership because of a person’s age;
  • notices regarding vacant job openings cannot mention age as a perquisite for eligibility for the job.

However, if for some reason being an older person may stop the job being completed then selecting an employee by an employer based on age may not necessarily be unlawful.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer can assess your age discrimination case and help you file a complaint with the EEOC which entails completing the intake questionnaire which provides the basis of your claim.

You will need to fill in your name, address, and telephone number as well as the name, address, and telephone number of your employer. In addition, you will need to provide a short description which explains how you have been a victim of age discrimination.

At the end of the form you must ensure it has been signed otherwise the EEOC will not conduct any investigation.

If the EEOC agrees after conducting their own investigation that your employer has discriminated against you because of your age your lawyer may help you file a compensation claim with your employer.

Your lawyer will need documentation and evidence to help support your claim. There is a time limit to consider which is within 180 days from the date the discrimination took place.

Additional Resources