Gray Power: Federal laws exist to protect older workers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Employees and job applicants who are 40 years or older are protected from age discrimination by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Employers with at least 20 employees, including state and local governments, are included and may not:

uDiscriminate against workers age 40 and older in hiring, firing, compensation, benefits, terms, conditions or any other aspect of employment because of age.

-Retaliate against an individual who complains about age discrimination or helps the government investigate an age discrimination charge.

-Implement age-neutral policies that have a significant disproportionate impact on older workers that is not justified by reasonable objectives of the employer to carry out such purposes.

Employment agencies serving an employer covered by the ADEA may not refuse to refer or refrain from referring workers age 40 and older.

Labor organizations, such as unions, with 25 or more members

may not:

-Discriminate against individuals age 40 and older in membership activities.

-Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against any individual based on age.

-Retaliate against an individual for complaining about age discrimination or for helping the government investigate an age discrimination charge.

An employee who wishes to file a charge must do so when he or she first became aware of it or within 180 days of the alleged incident.

Dr. Marvin Copes, located in Maylene, is an Education and Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama. He can be reached by e-mail at