The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is the federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating based on age against individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The ADEA prohibits age discrimination among persons who are older than 40. For example, a 45 year-old applicant may not be favored over a 60 year-old applicant based on age. The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees and federal, state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act ("OWBPA") protects older workers from age discrimination with regard to employee benefits and prohibits an employer from providing severance agreements or early retirement packages that favor younger workers. In some instances, an employer may ask an employee to give up his rights under the ADEA in order to settle a legal claim or in order to receive severance upon termination. The OWBPA requires an employer to provide older workers certain protections before settling a legal claim or accepting a proposed termination agreement. These protections include, among other things, providing the individual at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it.
New York City and State Human Rights Law also prohibit discrimination in employment based on age. Unlike the ADEA, the New York City Human Rights Law applies to persons of all ages (not just persons 40 years or older) and New York State Human Rights Law applies to persons 18 years of age or older. These laws cover all employers that employ four or more employees. In addition, city law applies a more lenient standard to proving age discrimination than its state and federal counterparts.
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