November 01, 2014

A Study of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

Nearly a half-century has passed since Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967. The ADEA passed on the strength of congressional findings that the so-called older worker population had been denied equal employment opportunities owing to invalid stereotypes ascribed to workers of a certain age demographic. Since its inception, the ADEA has prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of age, and that prohibition has always been limited to individuals in a defined age group. Initially, the ADEA solely protected individuals between 40 and 70; however, in 1986 the upper age cap was removed. The ADEA was amended again in 1990 by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), which amendments were designed to further safeguard older workers from an involuntary or uninformed waiver of their age discrimination protections under the ADEA. The judiciary’s interpretation of the ADEA has also changed over time. Most recently, the Supreme Court in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009), interpreted the ADEA in a way that created a higher standard for proving causation than the standard facing plaintiffs in the vast majority of federal civil rights statutes.


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