In 1967, The Labor Department delivered a report confirming the commonness of age discrimination in the workplace. In response, the US Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (Dec. 15, 1967), coded as Chapter 14 of Title 29 of the United States Code, 29 U.S.C. prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older in the United States. It was passed in order to protect individuals who are 40 years old and above from being fired, refused a job, forced to retire, and treated unfairly with payment, promotions, benefits, health care coverage, retirement plans, and other employment opportunities based on age. The ADEA only applies to employers with more than 20 employees.
According to the Act, it is prohibited to:
- Advertise age preference and limitations in job notices;
- Deny benefits to older employees;
- Limit the age for apprenticeship programs;
- Impose involuntary retirement before age 70;
- Fire or refuse to hire employees based on age;
- Inquire about an applicant’s age for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.
The ADEA states that there are certain exceptions provided for as follows:
- It allows age restrictions in circumstances where age is shown to be a “bona fide occupational qualification”.
- It allows the reduction of benefits based on age if the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.
- It allows age limitations in some apprenticeship programs if they fall within certain specific exceptions under the act or if the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission grants a specific exemption.
In the situation presented, Employee B is covered by the Act because he is above 40 years old and he is below 70 years old. Even though the Act allows age restriction in a situation where age is a “bona fide occupational qualification”, this has not been reflected in this case. Moreover, Employee B, though much older than his colleague who has been promoted in his place, is still doing a much better job despite his age. This was reflected by the annual performance review. Therefore, the violation of the ADEA Act cannot be justified on this basis. Further, the Act allows age limitations in some apprenticeship programs if they fall within certain specific exceptions under the Act or if the EEOC grants a specific exemption, and again this is not the case, neither has it been mentioned. The refusal to promote Employee B was a violation of the Act.
In case the position available for promotion was an executive high policy policy-making position who are entitled to a pension over a minimum yearly amount, then it would not have been reasonable to promote Employee B to it because there is mandatory retirement based on the age of 65 for such positions, yet he was 68 already. This was also not the case in this situation, so the Act was still violated.