When it comes to age discrimination, one of the most controversial topics that our law firm comes across is the issue of a mandatory retirement age. On one hand, it can be argued that setting a specific age for retirement is discriminatory and goes against the principles of equality in the workplace. In fact, there is even the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that makes age discrimination illegal against those who are 40 years or older.
But, this law and its protections do not cover everything. There are situations where employers can make decisions based on someone’s age due to the ADEA’s vague language. This includes mandatory retirement ages, for which there is no federal law.
If your employer has a mandatory retirement age that you think is discriminatory, contact our attorneys. Our age discrimination attorneys can consult on whether or not your situation qualifies as discrimination and what legal options you may have.
What are Mandatory Retirement Ages?
A mandatory retirement age is typically a specific age set by an employer at which an employee is required to retire from their position. They have to retire regardless of their performance or desire to continue working. In many cases, this age is set at 65 years old, as this has traditionally been seen as the standard retirement age.
The Argument Against Mandatory Retirement Ages
The main argument against a mandatory retirement age is that it goes against the principle of equal treatment in employment. Forcing someone to retire based solely on their age is discriminatory and disregards an individual’s skills, experience, and ability to contribute to the workplace. This can also create a barrier for older individuals who may want or need to continue working past the retirement age, as not everyone can afford to retire at age 65.
The Argument For Mandatory Retirement Ages
On the other hand, some argue that having a mandatory retirement age is necessary for various reasons. One of the main arguments is that it allows for effective succession planning within a company.
By setting a specific retirement age, companies can ensure that there is room for new talent and fresh ideas. Companies need employees to keep up with the market that they are targeting or need to start targeting.
Additionally, some industries may have physically demanding roles where aging employees may not be able to perform their jobs effectively. If they tried, it could potentially be a safety hazard.
The Difference Between States
As stated, because there is no federal law regarding mandatory retirement ages, each state has its own laws and regulations on this matter. For example, in Georgia, there is no specific age set for mandatory retirement. Employers are allowed to set their own retirement age, as long as it is clearly stated in their policies and consistently applied.
When Are Mandatory Retirement Ages Illegal?
It is important to note that while setting a mandatory retirement age may not be illegal in some cases, it can still be considered discriminatory if the employer cannot prove that it is necessary. To be specific, the employer must show that the retirement age is based on a legitimate business reason and is necessary for the company’s operations. These can include jobs that require physical labor and elderly employees would cause a safety hazard. If they do not have a clear and concise reason, they can be sued for discriminatory practices.
Employers are allowed to force individual employees to retire at different ages based on their health and performance. Having a fit 66-year-old who can do all that their job requires to stay on while making an unfit 63-year-old retire is not necessarily discriminatory. In fact, in many cases, this may help the employer’s defense because it shows that forced retirement is based on performance and not age.
This is important information to tell our attorneys about during consultation. We can see if their actions are consistent or inconsistent.
Contact Our Age Discrimination Attorneys For Help
It is important for employees to carefully consider their employer’s policies and ensure they are in compliance with state laws. If not, they can be blindsided by their employer forcing them to retire with a mandatory retirement age. If you are unsure if your situation constitutes as age discrimination, consider talking to our experienced age discrimination attorneys. We’re here to help. Contact us today.