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What do Missouri workers need to know about age discrimination?

Missouri workers who are age 40 and older have federal provisions in place that protect them from age discrimination in the workplace.

In 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act disallowing employment discrimination against those workers over the age of 40. The protections of the ADEA also are extended to job applicants. Under the law, it is illegal to discriminate against an applicant or employee due to his or her age. This applies to any of the conditions, terms or privileges of his or her employment and includes hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, layoffs, benefits, training, assignments and/or benefits. Additionally, the ADEA goes a step further, permitting companies to favor older workers even if doing so may adversely affect a younger worker who is at least 40.

Retaliation against any workers for their opposition to discriminatory employment practices that are based on age or against those who filed age discrimination claims, testified in proceedings or otherwise participated in investigations, litigation or other proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA is also against the law.

The ADEA is not applicable in all employment situations, however. The employer must have no fewer than 20 employees. Federal, local and state governments with that many employees fall under the auspices of the law, as do labor groups and employment agencies and most, but not all, apprenticeship programs.

When employers post job notices and advertisements for employment, they should not specify age preferences or limitations unless they are able to show that age is a "bona fide occupational qualification" considered to be reasonably necessary to the company's normal operation. There are no prohibitions that prevent an employer from asking for an applicant's date of birth or age, but in cases where discrimination is alleged, such requests will undergo special scrutiny to ensure the lawful purpose behind the inquiry.

If you are faced with a situation where you suspect you were unfairly discriminated in the workplace due to your age, you may have a cause of action for a civil claim.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Facts About Age Discrimination" accessed Feb. 11, 2015

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