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Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Human Rights Issues

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who are 40 years of age or older. The ADEA covers private employers of 20 or more persons as well as state and local governments, employment agencies serving covered employers and labor unions with 25 or more members. Specifically, labor unions that operate a hiring hall or office that recruits potential employees or obtains job opportunities also must abide by the law. In general, the ADEA prohibits age discrimination in hiring, discharge, pay, promotions and other terms and conditions of employment.

Several groups of employees are partially exempt from ADEA coverage. These include some high-level managers, public safety personnel (such as police officers and fire fighters), uniformed military personnel and tenured employees at colleges and universities. Also, an employer can defend itself against an age discrimination charge by showing that age is a bona fide occupational qualification for a particular job. For example, if a job is physically demanding in certain situations an employer may raise this defense.

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