The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) forbids discrimination against individuals who are age 40 and older in the workplace. The ADEA prohibits businesses from making personnel decisions based on improper age considerations. As the baby boomer generation continues to approach retirement, age discrimination has become more prevalent than ever. Employers cannot refuse to hire or choose to terminate an employee because of their advanced age. Likewise, employers may not discriminate against an individual because of his age, with respect to his wages, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
The law also forbids businesses from retaliating against employees who oppose unlawful age discrimination and prohibits 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 a severance. Often, an employee who has recently terminated may be asked to accept compensation in exchange for release of all claims against the company. Generally for such a release of claims to be valid, the company must do the following:
- Include a simple waiver of claims in a written agreement;
- The company must provide additional compensation that the employee was not already entitled in exchange for the waiver of claims;
- Specifically refer to the OWBPA in the written agreement;
- State that the individual cannot waive rights that arise after the date of the agreement;
- Advise the individual in writing of their right to consult with an attorney; and
- Provide a period of at least 21 days to review the agreement (and include a seven-day revocation period to change their mind).
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you, whether because of your age or another protected status, the firm can help you negotiate exit terms. If your employer violated your rights, then you may be entitled to additional compensation or additional severance. Thatcher Law Firm frequently reviews severance agreements and advises employees of their rights under the ADEA and OWBPA.
The firm also reviews severance agreements for businesses and ensures full compliance of the ADEA and OWBPA. Failure to comply with the OWBPA will cause a severance agreement and release of claims to be unenforceable.