Employers and employees in Minnesota hear a lot about discrimination on the basis of sex or race, but the legal issue of age discrimination often draws less public attention. Not unlike its counterparts in race and sex, federal and state law prohibit a wide range of business practices and activities that either directly or indirectly treat workers differently because of their age.
Laws protect employees in most aspects of employment
At the federal level, the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people 40 or older. The scope of the law extends to almost any term of employment, including hiring, pay, promotions, layoffs and harassment. Unintentional policies not based on a factor other than age that have an adverse impact on persons over 40 can qualify as discrimination under ADEA. Applicants and businesses alike should know the law limits the business covered and the time frame to file.
Minnesota has adopted two laws that expand the federal protections against age discrimination to the extent permitted. The state’s counterpart to the ADEA, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, extends protections against discrimination to age 18; it also precludes businesses from seeking age-related information for purposes of job selection.
The second law regulates an area many would not consider immediately as related to discrimination: retirement. Economic and social factors have contributed to individuals working later in life. The Minnesota Retirement Law prohibits employers from discriminating based on age against those under 70, with few exceptions. In areas where it conflicts with federal law, such as private employers with 20 or more employees, the ADEA applies.
Experience in litigating age discrimination cases
Employees close to retirement or with years of specific experience face challenges as the workplace transitions to a home-based model requiring more years of formal education. These changes place burdens on both employers who must not use age as a basis on which to treat individuals differently based on age. Attorneys who understand the relationship can provide information to those who need it.