What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination is a form of employment discrimination that is unlawful under federal law (the Age Discrimination in Employment Act) and Illinois law (the Illinois Human Rights Act).  Age discrimination occurs when an employer terminates or takes other adverse job action against an employee because of his or her age.  Employees who are in the protected age class, which is age 40 and up, are protected by the age discrimination laws.  However, an employer is not required to retain an employee simply because he or she is in the protected age class.

Examples of Age Discrimination

Senior executives are often victims of age discrimination.  An organization may terminate a senior executive, despite decades of valuable contributions to the organization, because he or she is perceived as too old for the organization’s image.  In these instances, the discrimination may be discrete.  Position elimination is a commonly used subterfuge for the termination of an older employee.  Instead of directly replacing the employee, an employer may divide up the duties of the employee’s position and give them to several different younger employees, typically in newly created positions, as part of a company restructuring or reorganization.