The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) is a federal law that applies to employers with 20 or more employees.
The ADEA protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on their age. The ADEA applies to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.
To establish a preliminary case of age discrimination, an employee must prove:
- That he/she was within the protected age group, i.e. older than forty (40) years of age;
- That he/she was qualified for the position;
- That he/she suffered an “adverse employment action,” e.g. demotion, termination, failure to give raises or benefits; and
- That the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination.
Once an employee establishes a preliminary case of age discrimination, the employer then can present evidence that the adverse employment action was taken for “legitimate, non-discriminatory business reasons.”
If the employer provides this evidence then the employee must prove that his/her age was the real reason for the adverse employment action, or that the employer’s reason for the adverse employment action is false.
The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) also applies to the workplace. Under the MHRA, the protected age class includes individuals ages 40 to 70.
We have extensive experience with age discrimination laws and their application to today’s workplace. Contact us to discuss your situation involving the ADEA or MHRA.