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Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits workplace discrimination against individuals who are age 40 and older. The ADEA prohibits businesses from making personnel decisions based on age. Employers cannot refuse to hire an employee or terminate their employment because of their age. Likewise, employers may not discriminate against an individual because of their age, with respect to wages, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

The law also prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose unlawful age discrimination or age-based harassment.

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

In 1990, Congress amended the ADEA to include the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), which has important implications for employees 40 and over who have been terminated or offered severance. Often, an employer offers a terminated employee compensation in exchange for their release of all claims against the company. In many circumstances, for such a release of claims to be valid, the company must do the following:

  1. Include a simple waiver of claims in a written agreement;
  2. Provide additional compensation to which the employee was not already entitled in exchange for the waiver of claims;
  3. Specifically refer to the OWBPA in the written agreement;
  4. State that the individual cannot waive rights that arise after the date of the agreement;
  5. Advise the individual, in writing, of their right to consult with an attorney; and
  6. Provide a period of at least 21 days to review the agreement (and a seven-day revocation period to change their mind).


If you believe your employer has discriminated against you, based on your age or another protected status, Thatcher Zavaro & Mani can advise you. If your employer violated your rights, then you may be entitled to additional compensation or additional severance. Thatcher Zavaro & Mani frequently reviews severance agreements and advises employees of their rights under the ADEA and OWBPA.

We also review severance agreements for businesses to ensure full compliance with the ADEA and OWBPA. Failure to comply with the OWBPA can prevent enforcement of a severance agreement and release of claims. To schedule an appointment with an attorneys who specializes in age discrimination law, please contact us at 301-850-1246. We serve clients in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.