The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits private employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating against employees and applicants based on age (29 USC 621 et seq.). In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the ADEA applies to all public employers, regardless of size (Mount Lemmon Fire Dist. v. Guido, 139 S. Ct. 22 (2018)).
The ADEA protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The laws of individual states or municipalities may set a lower age limit and cover smaller employers.
Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for an employer to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of age.
• Limit, segregate, or classify employees in any way that deprives them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affects employee status because of age.
• Reduce the pay of any employee in order to comply with the ADEA.
Disparate treatment. The ADEA prohibits employers from intentionally discriminating against applicants or employees who are at least 40 years of age. This is referred to as disparate treatment. In a disparate treatment case, the person alleging discrimination must prove that the employer was motivated by discriminatory intent.
No mixed motive under the ADEA. In a mixed-motive case of disparate treatment, an employee alleges that both legitimate factors and unlawful discrimination influenced the employment action in question (i.e., that discrimination was a motivating factor). The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the ADEA does not permit the use of a mixed-motive analysis (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, 129 S. Ct. 2343 (2009)). Instead, for employees to ...