The Legalities of Workplace Discrimination Based on Age

November 28th, 2023

Age discrimination in the workplace refers to treating an individual less favorably because of their age. It is important to understand the legal protections against age discrimination to ensure a fair and inclusive work environment. Here are the key legal aspects related to workplace discrimination based on age:

Age Discrimination Laws in the United States
In the United States, age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 . The ADEA protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from discrimination in various aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, and terms and conditions of employment . It applies to both private and public sector employees, as well as federal financial assistance programs The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) .

Age Discrimination Laws in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, age discrimination in the workplace has been illegal since 2006, with the law now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010 . The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals of all ages from unfair treatment based on their age It covers various aspects of employment, including recruitment, promotion, training, and retirement . The law aims to ensure that people of all ages have equal access to employment opportunities and are not unfairly disadvantaged due to their age .

Age Discrimination Laws in Australia
In Australia, age discrimination is prohibited under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their age in various areas, including employment . It covers all types of employers and employment relationships, including government employees, private sector employees, full-time, part-time, and casual employees, as well as contract workers and apprentices .

Consequences of Age Discrimination
Employers who engage in age discrimination can face legal consequences, including financial penalties and damages awarded to the victims of discrimination. Additionally, age discrimination can harm workplace morale, productivity, and diversity.

Examples of Age Discrimination
Age discrimination can manifest in various ways in the workplace. Some examples include:

Not employing certain individuals because they do not fit in with other employees due to their age .
Not employing younger workers due to assumptions that they will quickly move on to another job .
Advertising a position for someone aged under a specific age to join a “dynamic, young team” .
Making decisions around redundancy or forcing someone to retire based on their age .
Harassing or bullying a person because of their age .
Taking Action Against Age Discrimination
If an individual believes they have been subjected to age discrimination in the workplace, they can take action by filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, such as the EEOC in the United States or the Australian Human Rights Commission in Australia. It is advisable to consult with an employment lawyer for guidance on the specific legal options available.