We talk a lot about age discrimination in the workplace, but there are some things every Kansas City should know about this type of discrimination. First, it is important to note that while the specifics of Kansas laws may differ from Missouri laws, but every employer must follow federal laws.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is the federal law that governs age discrimination in the workplace, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency charged with enforcing the law.

Under this federal law, a person becomes a member of the protected class when they reach the age of 40. While some state laws have different age requirements, anyone younger than the age of 40 is not protected by the federal law.

Even though there is an age requirement for a person to be considered a victim of age discrimination, a person of any age could be considered a perpetrator of discrimination.

Also important to note is that discrimination does not have to be targeted at a single individual. Practices or policies that have a negative impact on a group of members from the protected class can be considered discriminatory. An employer must prove that the policy or procedure was based on a reasonable factor other than age to defeat a claim of discrimination.

So what are some acts that could be considered discriminatory under the ADEA? Discrimination can occur in both the hiring process and during employment. It is considered illegal for an employer to deny applicants based on their age, to pass up older employees for promotions, layoff a person because they are over 40, force older employees into certain assignments or any other adverse employment action based on age. Harassment based on age that creates a hostile or offense work environment is also prohibited under the law.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Age Discrimination” July 31, 2012