This month marks the 54th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), an act which, “forbids employment discrimination against anyone at least 40 years of age in the United States.”
The bill was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, to prevent age discrimination and to provide fair contingency under conditions that were not covered in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
For protected employees, the ADEA forbids prejudice at all levels of employment: recruiting, hiring, employment relationship, decisions for layoffs, and the termination of the employment relationship. Although the act protects applicants and employees 40 years of age and older, it also applies to all ages by permitting the use of certain age distinctions and factors in hiring processes.
Unfortunately, while the ADEA protects against unfair working conditions of older employees, there is still significant research on stereotypes and biases existing against older workers. A study conducted by Nazarov, Zafar E, & Schrader, Sarah, von. (2016) states that in a survey, “almost two-thirds of respondents had seen or experienced age discrimination, and more than 90% felt that age discrimination in the workplace today is somewhat or very common.”
This study illustrates how the discrimination of older workers is still not uncommon even in today’s workplace. An emphasis on better understanding the ADEA and employer policies is important to reduce employee bias and discrimination in the workplace, which is essential for HR professionals. Here are a few suggestions to ensure ADEA compliance:
6 Ways to Maintain ADEA Compliance
Recruitment & Hiring: employers must focus on qualifications for the role, rather than age or generation, and should ensure that policy is applied to all applicants.
Asking for an applicant or employee’s age: this should only happen when legally necessary for a business-related purpose, such as knowing if the worker is over the age of 18. Additionally, avoid asking questions that may lead to age discrimination, such as the year a candidate graduated from high school/college. If age is not a legal requirement, avoid asking.
Retirement: these programs should not be dependent on age, and need to be voluntary to avoid potential discrimination issues.
Promotions & Bonuses: any sort of financial incentive needs to be based on performance, and never based on length of time with the organization.
Staff Training: ensure those who are involved in your hiring processes understand the ADEA and know how to avoid age-based discrimination. Additionally, all teams should be trained on discrimination and stereotypes, to understand how to avoid creating a discriminatory environment based on age-related commentary.
Avoid Age-Related Assumptions: you must allow all employees the same opportunities, whether to learn a new technology or apply for a new position. Never make assumptions based on age.
At Accurate, we honor the importance of the ADEA, and support workers of all ages in order to create a positive working environment for all. Millions of workers continue to face age discrimination every day, as a recent study showed that over 60 percent of workers aged 45 and older had witnessed or experienced age discrimination at work. As our workforce matures and grows, many workers may simply lack information about their legal protections. This is why highlighting this important anniversary, and the details of the ADEA, is a positive reinforcement and reminder to employees of all ages that contribute to our workforce.