State & Federal Age Discrimination Laws
Several Florida and U.S. laws prohibit age discrimination from occurring in the workplace. These laws were designed to prevent employers from granting opportunities to younger people in favor of those aged 40 and over in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, performance management and evaluation, promotions, training, and wages.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, is the main federal law that forbids employers from discriminating against workers and job applicants. First published in 1967, the ADEA applies to individuals who are 40 years old and up who work in a workplace with 20 or more employees.
The ADEA does two things:
- Prohibits employers from discriminating against workers older than 40 years of age in favor of those who are younger, and
- Prohibits employers from discriminating among older workers (e.g., promoting someone aged 45 over someone aged 50 with the same skill set).
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) updated the AEDA with an amendment that made it illegal for employers to use an employee's age as a basis for discrimination when it comes to benefits (health insurance, pensions, etc.) and retirement. Like the rest of the ADEA, the OWBPA protects people who are 40 years old and up and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Another federal set of laws, The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Finally, the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) applies to workplaces with 15 or more employees and prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their age—however, this law doesn’t induce a specific age limit, so people under 40 can make claims as well (a 2016 National Bureau of Economic Research study determined women experience age discrimination as early as age 32). Many Florida counties have additional protections as well.
Unfortunately, however, just because the law is on your side doesn’t mean age discrimination doesn’t happen. Sadly, when it does, it can be very difficult for a victim to prove so in a court of law. This is where having an attorney on your side can be a great asset should you decide to fight back.
Examples of Age Discrimination
While every case is different, examples of what age discrimination might look like at your job include:
- Older employees are segregated from younger workers in some way.
- The company lets go of older employees go for grounds that sound reasonable (saving money, etc.) but then replaces them with younger employees.
- You are assigned work involving old technology or problems while newer, younger hires are given new, cutting-edge assignments.
- You are passed over for job promotions that require the use of novel technology your employer assumes you don’t understand.
- You seem to receive harsher criticisms and disciplinary actions than your younger coworkers for similar problems and mistakes.
- You suddenly start receiving poor performance reviews despite your job duties and performance remaining unchanged.
- Your boss, colleagues, and/or other people in the workplace joke or make insulting comments about your age and/or older people in general.
- Your company has a pattern of only hiring younger workers.
- Your employer encourages or even forces you to retire.
- Your position is eliminated because it has become “obsolete.”