Most people are familiar with the classic examples of prohibited discrimination like race and religion. What you may not know is that your employer is also prohibited from discriminating on the basis of age. Sometimes, employers would prefer to push out older employees in favor of younger and cheaper workers. The federal government prohibits such actions in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The ADEA prevents employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are over 40 years old. The law protects everyone from the person looking for a job to the loyal employee of 25 years. Employers cannot discriminate based on age at any stage of the employment process, including application, hiring, apprenticeships and termination.

Employers cannot reduce benefits, especially health and life insurance, on the basis of age. Moreover, your boss cannot force you into an early retirement. However, your employer is free to be selective based on physical capability, like strength or endurance. Your employer is only required to give equal consideration to everyone that applies for the position.

So this is how the law works in the perfect world, but how is it applied in real life? Well, proving a discrimination case against your employer can be complicated. You have to show that the reason you faced unfair treatment is because of your age, in other words, you must show intentional action. Most employers are savvy enough to avoid trigger phrases like “I’m firing you because you’re old,” instead, they will use other justifications such as an inability to adapt, or you’re too expensive.

If you believe that your employer may be discriminating against you, then you may want to speak to an employment law attorney. Aging is the natural order of life, and no one should be punished for it, especially if that person remains a dedicated hard worker.