When is “Aging Out” Unlawful?

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If you have been in your career for some time and you are approaching your golden years, you may be worrying about how long you will continue to work. Will you be forced to retire at some point? What if you can not keep up at some point in your life? The concept of “aging out” has been around for a long time. In fact, in some industries there are mandatory retirement ages in place to ensure that senior workers do not endanger themselves or others in the line of duty. Of course, these are very limited exceptions to the general rule.

If you are being forced out of your job due to your age, it may actually be age discrimination, which is prohibited under federal laws. How do you know if it is acceptable in your case or not?  At Five Points Law Group, we are committed to helping our clients understand their rights in employment disputes. Give us a call to speak with an experienced employment law attorney today.

What is Age Discrimination?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency responsible for creating and enforcing employment discrimination rules. EEOC says that age discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently because of age. Pretty simple, right? Well, it is a bit more complicated than that. The disparate treatment of seniors applies to employees aged 40 or older, and there must be some intent to create an adverse action. This can include any situation in which one of the following happens because of the person’s advancing age:

  • Reducing pay
  • Denying promotions
  • Refusing transfers
  • Denying employment
  • Terminating the employee

Therefore, under federal rules it would normally be considered age discrimination to “force” someone out of their job due to their age.

Exceptions to Age Discrimination

There are, of course, specific and limited exceptions to the general rules. For instance, the following industries and job titles are usually exempt. This is because separate laws are in place to protect these job groups, and Congress has found that the interests of public safety outweigh concerns about employees being required to retire at a certain age.

  • Law Enforcement
  • Firefighters
  • Military
  • High-paid executives and policy-level employees
  • Elected or senior appointed government officials
  • Where Otherwise Governed by Contract (i.e. Union Bargaining, celebrities, athletes, etc.)

For obvious reasons, the public has an interest in making sure that police and fire services workers are young, fit, and healthy enough to perform job functions. This is different from a physical labor job in the private sector.

What if I can Not Physically do the Job?

This is a different matter. While an employer cannot fire you for “getting too old,” they can terminate your employment if you no longer can do the job. If the reason is merely that you are not in good physical condition or that your health has deteriorated, there is probably not a lot you can do. However, if you have been injured at work, you may have rights under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Also, If you have a bona fide disability, your employer may be required to offer reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Talk to a Lawyer Right Away 

Your right to bring a complaint with the EEOC is limited. You may have as little as six months to file an action seeking compensation for discrimination, so do not delay. Call Five Points Law Group right away to discuss your situation with an attorney.

Kira Fonteneau
Kira Fonteneau
Kira is a lawyer for working people who represents people facing discrimination and illegal wage practices in the workplace.

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