The History of Age Discrimination in the Workplace - Barrett & Farahany

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The History of Age Discrimination in the Workplace

The History of Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age discrimination

As we get older, we may find ourselves less capable of doing certain jobs, particularly those with physical labor. One would think that would mean there are a lot of jobs that people age out of.

However, there are not as many labor-focused jobs as there used to be. With today’s technology and social landscape, physical labor-based jobs are disappearing. More jobs require social and analytical skills than the ability to do physical labor. This means that your physical abilities should not be an important factor to employers when they are considering whether to hire or promote you.

To protect workers from issues like this, the United States has several laws regarding age discrimination. To explain how you are protected against this form of discrimination and how these protections work, we’ll dive into the history of age discrimination and the different laws that have led to our current legislature. For more information and consultation, the age discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany can help.

The First Attempt: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

In 1967, the United States began prohibiting employment discrimination based on age with the passing of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This law would protect workers between the ages of 40 and 65. This age range was chosen to incorporate the margin of error for when people are considered older employees.

Forty years old is at the lower end of the spectrum, but by including people who don’t usually experience age discrimination, the law protects as many people as possible.

The same could not be said of the maximum age. While there are conditions that are common over the age of 65 that would keep someone from working, the assumption is that because they are older, they can’t work, leaving many able-bodied individuals vulnerable to discrimination.

The law also received subsequent amendments before a new law altogether would be introduced. Some amendments included:

  • Removing the upper age limit, fixing an issue with the original ruling
  • Ending mandatory retirement for all workers

The Establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency where people are supposed to file incidents of discrimination in the workplace. This includes age discrimination, making it important to the history of age discrimination laws.

The EEOC was created in 1965, as part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Originally, the EEOC was meant to enforce and assure that discrimination was punished in the workplace. It wasn’t allowed to file lawsuits against employers, but they could submit “briefs” that employees could utilize in their lawsuits against their employers. This worked as a means to hold employers liable when employees experienced discrimination for protected characteristics such as gender and race.

Since age was not yet considered a protected characteristic, the Civil Rights Act of 1963 is not an age discrimination law. However, the organization determined it would be grandfathered into protecting against age discrimination when age was established as a protected characteristic.

It was not until 1972 that the EEOC received the ability to file lawsuits against companies, the federal government, and all state and local agencies with at least 15 employees for cases of discrimination. This way, they can hold employers responsible if employees cannot afford to themselves.

The Second Attempt: The Age Discrimination Act of 1975

The first attempt at creating a law protecting people against age discrimination didn’t cover everyone. There were still people who were not protected, meaning that some employees faced discrimination with no legal right to take action. The Age Discrimination Act amended this.

The 1975 law made it so programs and activities that received federal financial assistance could not discriminate based on age. This protected not just current workers, but also volunteers, customers, and potential employees.

The protections of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 weren’t geared toward workers like its predecessor, but it would influence future laws that would protect discriminated-against workers and non-workers alike.

It also had one point that was relevant to workers as well as non-workers. This act prohibited retaliation against victims for filing a complaint against those who committed age discrimination.

How the Employment Law Attorneys at Barrett & Farahany Can Help

Everyone grows old, but that shouldn’t mean that everyone should be forced to retire, even if they have no means of supporting themselves. While there are jobs that older individuals can’t do, there are plenty that they can, and the reasons that would allow an employer to deny employment are shrinking in number.

If you have experienced age discrimination, you should contact the age discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany. We understand the laws that should protect you, how to file with the EEOC, and how to utilize legal protections to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for more information.

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