Can My Employer Force Me to Retire When I Reach a Certain Age?

October 18, 2018

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was formed to ensure that all workers over the age of 40 have a fair chance at continuing their employment.

The purpose of the act is to protect employees from age discrimination in every area of the employment process. The law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. The ADEA specifically seeks to have employees treated equally regardless of their age.

What Is Age Discrimination and Harassment?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age.

“Harassment can include, for example, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted.) “

See: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm

What Is Forced Retirement?

A common method used by employers to push out or discriminate against older employees is known as forced retirement. Employers will seek to push out older employees as a result of bias toward their age. Employers do so when they begin to question if their older employees can handle the stress and rigors of their job.

It is not uncommon for older employees to begin experiencing such situations in the workplace. This could include situations in which a supervisor or manager openly uses biased comments such as “old man” or “grandpa” or make remarks stating that a certain employee is “too old” for a certain position.

Nonetheless, age discrimination is not always blatantly obvious. It can also include less obvious forms of discrimination such the hiring or promotion of younger, less qualified employees over older workers with experience.

Getting Protection From the ADEA

Under the provisions of the ADEA, an employer is prohibited from forcing an employee to retire at a specific age. Though there are some exceptions, the main goal of the ADEA is to prevent any such discrimination from occurring in the workplace.

Furthermore, the ADEA prevents employers from making a certain age a job requirement when hiring and from advertising positions based on age. It is important to note that the ADEA does not apply to all businesses. In most states, the ADEA only allows employees to pursue cases against employers with 20 or more employees.

 Proving Age Discrimination Under the ADEA

In interpreting the ADEA, courts have established several factor that an employee must show to prove age discrimination. The elements are as follows:

  1. The employed discharged or took adverse action against the employee.
  2. The employee was forty years of age or older at the time of the incident.
  3. The employer took the adverse action because of the employee’s age.

If an employee suspects that they are being forced to retire, it is important to be aware of these elements. This will help determine whether their employers actions were illegal.

What Should You Do When Your Employer Is Forcing You To Retire?

As stated above, it is illegal for an employer to force their employee to retire. As such, an employee who feels they are being pushed out of their position may consider filing a administrative claim with the EOOC. Generally, an employee has 180 days from the last incident to file an EEOC claim under the ADEA.

The EEOC will begin its investigation once an employee files an administrative charge through their offices. It is important to note that the EEOC may contact your former employer or co-workers. Further, EEOC officers may make site visits to the workplace and conduct witness interviews. Generally, the average EEOC investigation take around 10 months. The length of an EEOC investigations depends on the complexity of the investigation, the size of the employer and the parties’ willingness to be cooperative in the investigation.

Once the EEOC has conducted a full investigation, they will send both parties a letter stating the outcome and conclusions of the investigation. If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that age discrimination occurred, they will provide the complainant with a Right to Sue notice. This permits the former employee to pursue a lawsuit against their former employer and recover damages.

Find Representation

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to any form of age discrimination in the workplace then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing age discrimination are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.