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Age discrimination law celebrates 50th anniversary

In 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed by Congress. The act makes it illegal for companies in New York and around the country to discriminate against people based on their age. Other stated goals of the legislation were to ensure that workers were judged by their ability and to help workers and employers find solutions to issues related to age in the workplace.

The ADEA is one of the oldest and broadest anti-discrimination laws in the country. Those who are 40 and older are a protected class when it comes to this law. While the law has been in place for 50 years now, the number of claims related to age discrimination have remained steady over time. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 24,582 charges of age discrimination in 2008, and there have been 20,000 or more in each of the last 10 years.

Despite protection under the law, there is still a problem of long-term unemployment for older workers. Long-term unemployment may lead to a degradation of skills, lower morale and lower odds of being accepted by an employer for an open position. This was an issue back in 1967 and one of the problems that the ADEA hoped to solve.

A worker may face discrimination in the workplace regardless of gender or age. If a member of a protected class is passed up for a promotion, denied a raise or terminated in an act of retaliation, an attorney who has experience in employment law matters might investigate the matter to see if any law was violated. If so, it could be the basis of a claim filed with the EEOC or applicable state agency.

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