age discrimination protections

Age Discrimination Protections

By Thomas McKinney

Age discrimination can refer to discriminating against a person because they are either older or younger than others. Either way, age discrimination can put employers in serious hot water. You see, there are protections in place at both the federal and state level to protect employees from experiencing age discrimination in employment. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) not only prohibits employers from discriminating based on age but prohibits age discrimination in business transactions as well.

Who Is Protected from Age Discrimination?

So, the LAD prohibits age discrimination in employment, but what does that mean exactly? This means that, generally speaking, an employer cannot treat you differently based on your age. In fact, this prohibition on age discrimination makes it unlawful for an employer to:

  • Refuse to hire a person because of their age
  • Fire a person because of their age
  • Deny bonuses and other benefits to an employee because of their age
  • Take adverse employment actions, such as forcing retirement, against a person because of their age

When discussing protections offered by the LAD, it should be noted that there are some important exceptions for those who are either under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age. Employers may not consider age in employment decisions when an employee or prospective employee is between 18 and 70 years old. However, the LAD does not prohibit an employer from refusing to hire someone who is under 18 years of age nor does it prohibit an employer’s refusal to hire someone who is older than 70 years of age.

The LAD also does not prohibit an employer from taking age into consideration in hiring decisions when age is a “bona fide occupational qualification” for a certain job. This means that if age is a crucial part of the job, then age can be taken into account. If age is relevant to a job, in whole or in part, and if it is an essential element of the job, then an employer may take age into consideration. 

There are other exceptions that can occur over the course of employment. Again, generally speaking, an employer may not discriminate based on age in making employment decisions, including decisions such as those involving job assignment, bonuses, and pay levels. Under the LAD, an employer can refuse to promote an employee to a higher position if they are older than 70 years of age. Age can also be used as a factor when considering the operation or terms and conditions of a bona fide:

  • Retirement plan
  • Pension plan
  • Employee benefit plan
  • Insurance plan

When considering age as a factor in such plans, however, such plan provisions cannot act as a way to establish a mandatory retirement age.

Contact Our New Jersey Age Discrimination Attorney Today

Age discrimination and harassment have no place in the employee-employer relationship. If it has popped up in your work life, get in touch with the dedicated employment law attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.