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Age Discrimination in Employment Act

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 3/4/2008
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Does an aggrieved employee havt to wait a specific period of time before filing a lawsuit against my organization under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Yes.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.  Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for an employer with 20 or more employees to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment.  However, before filing a lawsuit against his or her employer, an aggrieved employee must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Specifically, the ADEA provides that “no civil action may be commenced by an individual under [the ADEA] until 60 days after a charge alleging unlawful discrimination has been filed with the EEOC.”  Under this provision, an aggrieved employee must file a charge with the EEOC and wait at least 60 days before filing a lawsuit against the employer.  The purpose of this 60-day waiting period is to give the EEOC time to work with prospective defendants (employers) to “promptly seek to eliminate any alleged unlawful practice by informal methods of conciliation, conference, and persuasion.”

Although there has been some confusion as to what constitutes the filing of a “charge” with the EEOC alleging discrimination under the ADEA, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that, so long as the regulatory requirements have been met (i.e., an allegation has been made that includes the name of the charged party), a filing by an aggrieved employee will be deemed a “charge” if it can be reasonably construed as a request for the EEOC to take remedial action to protect the employee’s rights or otherwise settle a dispute between the employer and the employee.  According to the Supreme Court, whether or not the EEOC takes any action in response to the “charge” is generally inconsequential and does not affect the employee’s right to file a lawsuit against his or her employer.

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Categories: 2008

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