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What You Need to Know About Age Discrimination

Under both federal and Florida law, there are certain actions employers cannot take based on an employee’s age. The primary law is the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Passed in 1967, the ADEA affords protection to workers 40 years or older and applies to employers with 20 or more workers. The Florida Civil Rights Act does not specify an upper or lower age limit and covers companies with 15 or more employees.

General Protections under the ADEA

Initially, as Tampa work discrimination lawyers will emphasize, it is important to understand that the ADEA applies both to employees as well as job applicants in regard to any term, condition or privilege of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Training
  • Job assignments

Employers include both the federal and state government, employment agencies and labor organizations.


The law also prohibits an employer form retaliating against a worker for making an internal complaint of age discrimination to his or her employer, asserting an age discrimination claim or participating in a government investigation under the ADEA.

Burden of Proof

If you file an age discrimination lawsuit, your Tampa work discrimination lawyers will have to prove not only some adverse employment decision affected you but also that the reason for that decision was because of your age. For instance, if your company was downsizing and you, a worker older than 40, were laid off but no younger employees were, that may be relevant evidence, but is not alone conclusive. Direct proof in age discrimination cases is very seldom available. Most employers’ actions are far more subtle. Circumstantial evidence is more typically used to overcome the burden of proof. This requires detailed analysis by an employment attorney to provide you with the best advice.

Waiving ADEA Rights

It has become more common for employers to seek a waiver of ADEA rights in consideration for offering a severance package. You can waive your rights but only under specific guidelines spelled out by the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act. The waiver must be:

  • Be in writing and clearly understandable
  • Refer specifically to rights under the ADEA
  • Not waive future rights
  • Advise you to seek independent counsel
  • Allow 21 days for you to rescind your waiver

Bringing an ADEA Claim

An age discrimination claim under the ADEA is different than a typical civil claim. Before you can file directly against your employer, you must file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Economic Opportunity Commission. The EEOC may, at its discretion, investigate the claim. Based on its investigation, it may take some action against the employer or dismiss your claim. You may file a civil lawsuit against your employer only after 60 days have passed since you file your EEOC. However, if the EEOC has dismissed the investigation, you must file suit within 90 days after the date of dismissal. Upon dismissal, the EEOC will issue you a Right to Sue Letter.

Contact an Employment Attorney Tampa for Legal Advice

Employment discrimination claims are very difficult to prove and employers have a strong advantage over the employee. If you believe you have been unfairly treated in contravention of the law, it is important that you understand and protect your rights. Level the playing field; call Florin Gray, a Tampa work discrimination lawyers group, at (727) 254-5255.

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