Workers with many years of job experience can be a valuable asset to any Tennessee business. They have seen many situations that can arise in the course of their job duties, and they know how to handle them. In addition, they can often serve as mentors to younger workers. However, older workers are sometimes seen as "dinosaurs" who are out-of-touch with technology or other workplace advancements. Thus, workers seeking a promotion or job-seekers seeking employment may be passed up due to their age.
However, such acts may be considered illegal age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants age 40 and above on the basis of their age. Such discrimination can occur during the hiring process, when issuing promotions, when firing a person or with regard to compensation or job duties. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the government agency tasked with enforcing the ADEA. If a worker or job seeker believes they have been unlawfully discriminated against based on their age, they may be able to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
The ADEA does not apply to every employer, however. Only employers who have at least 20 workers, labor organizations that have at least 25 members and government agencies that are bound by the ADEA. The ADEA does not confer any obligations on military personnel and independent contractors. Moreover, it is important to note that workers under age 40 are not protected by the ADEA, even if they experience what would constitute unlawful age discrimination if they were over age 40. However, some states have laws that provide workers with further protections against age discrimination.
Older workers should be seen as valuable members of the workplace. Unfortunately, all too often they are overlooked for jobs or promotions, and they could even find that they are being fired due purely to their age. If they are age 40 or above, they may be protected by the ADEA. Those who are wondering if the ADEA protects them or those who want more information on filing a workplace discrimination claim with the EEOC may want to seek professional guidance, so they can determine how to proceed.