Age is Just a Number…Or At Least It Should Be

As the economy took a turn for the worse, many individuals that would have reached retirement age have chosen to stay in the workplace longer in order to stay afloat with their bills. Out of necessity, it is a reality that many older employees are in the workforce more than ever before. However, many employers have enacted illegal business practices in an attempt to rid their companies and businesses of the older generation. This, fortunately, is protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and should be taken very seriously.

If you or a loved one believes that you have been fired or received poor treatment as a result of your age, you may have a legal claim. Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” that deals with just that. Read now and get informed!

Issues for Older Workers

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from firing workers between the ages of 40 and 70 because of their age. Similar discrimination laws have also been enacted in most states.

If you are an older worker and are being pressured to retire voluntarily by accepting an early retirement option or face the risk of being fired, demoted, or given a cut in pay, you may have grounds for an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a state agency such as the division of human rights. See Chapter 5 for information on age discrimination and the law.

Early retirement programs in and of themselves are legal and do not violate federal age discrimination laws so long as participation is voluntary. However, if you are offered a financial package containing early retirement inducements, be sure that it really contains worthwhile incentives such as additional pension benefits (i.e., extra years of age and service for pension calculations), lump sum severance payments (e.g., an extra year’s pay), cash inducements, and retirement health programs.

Avoid accepting early retirement packages that penalize you if you return to the workplace with a new job. Some companies permanently discontinue health coverage when the employee takes another job where coverage is provided. The problem here is that you could wind up working for the new employer for a short period of time (say, six months) and find yourself out of a job. Accepting this condition would cause you to forfeit valuable health benefits that are essential during your older years.

Be aware that if you are offered lifetime retiree benefits, the company may seek to cut or eliminate such benefits in the future, especially when it reserves the right to do so by contract. Many employers are successfully circumventing their obligations in this area. Never assume such benefits are sacred and will continue in the future undisturbed. Get legal advice if the offer of lifetime benefits is an important consideration in your decision to accept an early retirement package.

If the employer offers decreasing benefits with increasing age, this may penalize you unfairly. Before accepting an early retirement package, understand that you may have a difficult time finding a new job or starting your own business because of your age. You should also recognize that inflation may eat away at your pension if you don’t have a secure financial nest egg. Finally, if you are an older worker being asked to sign a waiver or release in exchange for more severance or early retirement inducements, be aware that the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act may give you added protection and should be reviewed with your employment attorney.

For a full depth analysis on this topic and many more, visit http://legalstrategiespublishing.com/ to purchase “The Employee Rights Handbook” today!

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