Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees on each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in a current or prior calendar year. The law also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the ADEA and may assess fines and other penalties against employers that violate the law. The EEOC may also award compensatory and punitive damages to individuals who are adversely affected by an employer’s ADEA violation.

Basics of ADEA

  • The ADEA prohibits age discrimination against employees and applicants age 40 and older.
  • Age limits and preferences for workers under 40 are prohibited unless an exception applies.
  • An age-neutral employment practice may violate the ADEA if it negatively affects individuals age 40 and older.
  • Older individuals may be favored over younger ones, even if the younger ones are 40 or over.
  • Employees may voluntarily waive their rights under the ADEA.

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The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information above contains only a summary of the applicable legal provisions and does not purport to cover every aspect of any particular law, regulation or requirement. Depending on the specific facts of any situation, there may be additional or different requirements. This is to be used only as a guide and not as a definitive description of your compliance obligations.