Age discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably because of the individual’s age. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA“). The ADEA only prevents discrimination on the basis of age if the individual is 40 or older. Although some states have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. For example, the New Jersey age discrimination protections prevent discrimination on the basis of age as long as the individual is between 18 and 70 years old.
Further, discrimination on the basis of age cannot be used for hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Harassment on the basis of age is also unlawful. This means that supervisors, coworkers, clients, or customers cannot use offensive or derogatory comments about a person’s age. Policies and practice are also not permitted if the policy or practice has a negative impact on applicants or employees over age 40 if the policy is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.