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EEOC rule published in Federal Register, clarifies age discrimination

There are many different types of discrimination that employees are protected against by state and federal law. One of the ways an employee could illegally be discriminated against is by age. The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 was enacted to codify into law the definition of age discrimination, but like all laws require constant attention and possible amendment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is one agency that is tasked not only with regulating the act, but with making clarifications when necessary. The EEOC made such a clarification to the act which was codified on Friday, March 30, in the Federal Register.

This final rule established further clarification to the rule that requires employers to ensure that all policies and procedures must be based on a reasonable factor. Policies and practices -- even when not specifically targeted at age -- must not have the effect of harming workers who have more years under their belt than other workers. Any practice or procedure that has an effect on older workers must be based on the reasonable factor other than age.

There was a public hearing held this past November by the EEOC. The topic of the hearing was the proposed rule, the final draft of which was issued this past Thursday. The reasonable factor determination arose from a 2008 Supreme Court Decision on a case over layoffs that appeared to target the elder generations.

The EEOC released a statement sharing the agency's belief that the "final rule strikes the appropriate balance between protecting older workers from discriminatory, unreasonable business decisions and preserving an employer's ability to make reasonable business decisions" -- an argument that has remained a point of contention.

Source: Business Insurance, "EEOC issues Age Discrimination in Employment Act rule," March 29, 2012

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