The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is the state law regulating the age discrimination in employment opportunities in the US. It was implemented in 1967 to endorse work of the older employees based on their input rather than age. The Act inhibits discrimination, and assists in solving problems that come up with the aging labor force. The Act, ADEA, forbids employment discrimination based on age for employees over 40 years. The original law, enforced in 1967, covered staff between 40 to 65 years (Eglit, 1992). However, subsequent amendments raised and then abolished the upper age boundary, ending compulsory retirement for all workers. Most individuals in today's labor force are beyond the customary retirement age. For some reasons, elder workers are enduring to work into their late years and getting the benefits they earn from remaining active (Sargeant, 2012). Workers who engage in illegal discrimination against older workers are endangering their status as an employer of prime, at the same time violating the civil rights of the elder employees.
Demographic groups protected by ADEA
It is a half-century now since the Congress implemented the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967. The ADEA was approved through consideration of concrete congressional findings in a study. The findings proved that the older workers had been curtailed equal employment opportunities owing to unacceptable stereotypes credited to workers of a definite age demographic (Posthuma, Wagstaff, & Campion, 2012). Its inception marked the beginning of prohibition of employment discrimination based on age, and that exclusion has always been restricted to individuals in a certain age group. Initially, the ADEA exclusively secured individuals between the age bracket of 40 and 65 years. The upper age limit was later removed in the 1980s. Later in 1990, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) revised the ADEA again. This time, the amendments were meant to include older staff from an instinctive or unacquainted waiver of their age discernment safeguards under the ADEA. Over time, the judiciary’s understanding of the ADEA has also transformed (Posthuma, Wagstaff, & Campion, 2012). Recently, the Supreme Court interpreted the ADEA in a means that generated a higher standard for demonstrating causation than the average facing complainants in the majority of federal civil rights acts.
The ADEA only protects age discrimination against people aged above 40 years, which then means that it does not protect employees under the 40. However, some states have laws that defend younger employees from age discrimination (Sargeant, 2012). Currently, as most employees remain active in their workplaces or are looking for active engagement in the workforce, beyond what was termed normal retirement age in the 1960’s, the need to guarantee equal employment opportunities irrespective of age remains to be a significant civil rights and public policy concern. The elder employees may be fraudulently stereotyped as less productive, close-minded, and less flexible to new technology and ideas. For instance, Lehman v. 1996, tells of a meeting where a specialist used a handout that compared the “Organizational Man” who is cautious, pessimistic and oriented to administrations with the “New Manager” who is a risk taker, well-educated, optimistic, and hardworking (Posthuma, Wagstaff, & Campion, 2012). This means that the two can deliver similar services given the same working platform. Although the ADEA offers the remedy to the negative outcomes of these stereotypes, the essence to eradicate discrimination founded on inaccurate stereotypes related to age continues.
Types of discrimination prohibited under the ADEA
There are several discriminations prohibited by the ADEA. First and foremost, according to the law, it is not illegal for a covered entity or an employer to favor an older employee over a younger one, even though both are aged 40 and above. Discrimination happens when the victim and the one who imposed the discrimination are both above 40 years. The law also bans discrimination regarding any employment aspect, including firing, hiring, job assignments, fringe benefits, promotions, pay, layoff, training and other terms and conditions of employment. The ADEA stands that it is illegal to harass an employee on the age basis. An example is making offensive comments about the person's age or age group. ADEA does not prohibit offhand comments, simple and guileless teasing, or isolated cases that are not very serious but harassment is unlawful when it is so recurrent or severe that it builds a hostile or unpleasant work environment. It is also unlawful when the harassment results in a hostile employment decision like the victim being demoted or fired. In such a case, the harasser could be the victim's superintendent, a supervisor in another sector, a colleague, or a client.
The ADEA also curtails age-biased advertisements. According to ADEA regulations, adverts that contain phrases like, recent college graduate, age 25 to 35, old employees, college student, and similar terms, unless an exception relates. The act also prohibits phrases that favor a certain class but differentiate against others. For example, age 40 to 50 preferred, supplement your pension or retired person. On the other hand, the demand for the date of birth or age of an applicant on an employment contract or use of the term state age is not a violation of the ADEA. It is argued that there could be legitimate reasons for demanding for the date of birth or age of the applicant. The law enforcers have the mandate to scrutinize the application to ensure that the request is for an acceptable purpose and not for purposes prohibited by the Act.
Relevance of the ADEA for seniors today
The ADEA encourages the continued engagement of older Americans who wish to work, consequentially reducing public expenditures on, retirement benefits, health insurance, and income support. The ADEA can upsurge the welfare of the employees who wish to keep working contrary to the other policies that are used to encourage employees to work longer, like those that increase the suitability age for Social Security. The senior employees continue to benefit from the ADEA in many ways. The utmost potential for increasing employment is among employees over 65 years, whose employment degrees are currently low. It is, therefore, important to figure out how the ADEA affects older employees.
Most older workers spend time at non-career tasks before retirement. The health is of utmost concern. The ADEA is relevant to the seniors because it offers a platform where they are engaged thus minimal anxieties of financial, economical, and social aspects of their lives. The other concern is of limiting disabilities, which increase with age. ADEA is fruitful to the seniors because as they engage in physical activities, chances of disabilities are minimal. Therefore, ADEA should be encouraged because of the many benefits it has to the senior employees.
Amendments required to ADEA as more baby boomers age
The contribution of baby boomers in the workspace is increasing. The percentage of both male and female baby boomers has increased significantly since 2004 to date. The stressed economy is compelling older workers to stay in the work force for longer periods than expected for several reasons. This is either because they are not ready to offer retire, or because they prefer not to resist it to the barn yet. As a result, companies also are facing a challenge of running their businesses governed by laws that are progressively relevant to the growing numbers of the aging employees. After its implementation in 1967, three amendments followed successfully to the ADEA. The most significant amendment was enacted in 1991. This amendment prohibited discrimination against workers 40 years and older from subjects revolving around conditions of pension, distributions, and contributions.
In 2009, the US president signed into ruling the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (LLFPA), which also revised the ADEA. According to this act, each time an employee is exposed to unfair dealing in the workplace, the act of limitations clock is rearranged so that each occurrence of age discrimination becomes an illegal act (Player, 2013). For example, if a worker protected by the ADEA is offered a lower salary having performed duties similar to another worker younger than 40, every time the older worker is remunerated constitutes an instance of unlawful discrimination. The act should be amended to find ways of releasing the older employees off the hook of heavy tasks and the burden of the employers to have the unproductive workforce. There should be set procedures to determine productive levels of the baby boomers and strategies to lay off the less productive ones (Player, 2013). This will help increase the productiveness of the businesses, reduce unemployment levels in the state thereby up surging the economy at large.
How the ADEA has affected the minority groups in the US
The ADEA has highly affected the minority groups in the US, specifically the older employees in the work places. Old age comes with many challenges, emotionally, socially and economically. Through engagement in the work place, the aging employees benefit from the company and care of colleagues. Workplaces are dynamic and not static. Older workers are considered a homogeneous group. However, each person a unique and has something to offer in the work place (Player, 2013). Backing ADEA, it is important to incorporate them into the business activities because their input could be valid. There are visible financial, emotional and social health benefits, especially the mental health benefits that are minimized by hiring these people thereby leading to reduced public health bills. This results in a positive impact on workforce dependability and stability of older workers in the business, which should not be undervalued. To sum up, more should be done to improve workforce involvement of older workers to support their personal beings as well as the state as a whole.
Eglit, H. (1992). Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991: Three Acts and a Dog That Didn't Bark, The.Wayne L. Rev., 39, 1093.
Player, M. (2013). Federal Law of Employment Discrimination in a Nutshell, 7th. West Academic.
Posthuma, R. A., Wagstaff, M. F., & Campion, M. A. (2012). 16 Age Stereotypes and Workplace Age Discrimination. The Oxford handbook of work and aging, 298.
Sargeant, M. (2012). Age discrimination in employment. Gower Publishing, Ltd..