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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essay on Age Discrimination and Employment Act

            There was a time when older workers were placed at a disadvantage as they were discriminated by their potential employers on account of their age.  The Age Discrimination and Employment Act was eventually passed to protect the rights of older workers against discrimination Passed in 1968, the ADEA seeks to “promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age, to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment, to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the image of age on employment” (David Neumark, 1997).

Under the ADEA, discrimination against a person because of his or her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment which includes hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments and training is unlawful.  This law also includes protection of employees who shall oppose employment practices that discriminate based on age or who shall file an age discrimination charge or who shall participate in any investigation, proceeding or litigation under the ADEA.

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Based on the situation in this case, the following can be inferred: 1) employee B who received an ‘above average’ rating was denied promotion on account of age; and 2) his co-worker was given a promotion despite his rating which is “adequate” because the management considered age as a basis for promotion.  This falls squarely on the prohibitions of the ADEA. 

The case of Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, 125 S.Ct. 1536 stresses the importance of compliance with the ADEA.  In this case, the city, in an attempt to bring the salaries of their younger police officers up to the regional average, adopted a policy that would give proportionately higher raises to officers having less than five years experience.  Their intention is that they want the salaries of younger police officers to be competitive with the regional average.  The older police officers however complained with the court.  According to the older police officers, this policy discriminated against them since they are virtually disqualified from the salary increases in view of the fact that majority of them have been in the service for at least five (5) years.  Consequently, they will receive lesser wages compared to the younger police officers who have served only for less than five (5) years.  Though the pay raise discrepancy is based on the yeas of experience, common sense however dictates that older officers will be prejudiced by the simple fact that they are the ones who are more likely to have served for at least five years.  The Supreme Court also made a ruling in this case that it is not necessary to violate the ADEA that there is intent to discriminate against the older workers.  In this case, the city did not have an intention of discriminating against the older police officers.  It was however clear that by implementing the policy the older police officers were subjected to discrimination.  Thus, the Supreme Court said that the plaintiff may file a claim based on age discrimination simply by negative impact on their part even when there is no direct evidence of discriminatory intent.  

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