Is It Unlawful to Discriminate Against a Person Because of His or Her Age

Aug 29, 2018
By Peter Friedmann

Multiple federal laws and Ohio’s laws make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their age. It is unlawful to deny people goods, services and opportunities just because they have celebrated a certain birthday.

As an age discrimination law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, The Friedmann Firm focuses on the legal rights of workers and the legal obligations of employers to their employees. The laws that most directly cover older workers is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Ohio’s laws prohibiting discrimination, codified in O.R.C 4112, also prohibit discrimination based on age.

The ADEA, passed in 1967, makes it clear that employees and job applicants who are 40 years old or older are members of a group that is specifically protected from age discrimination, often called a “protected class.” Workers who are younger than 40 not covered by age discrimination laws in Ohio, but the state does set rules about employing and paying teens who are between the ages of 14 and 18.

In order to comply with the ADEA, a company or agency cannot do things like the following:

  • Write job descriptions or classified ads that include specific ages unless falling within a stated age range can be defended in court as absolutely necessary for proper performance of job responsibilities.
  • Include language like “youthful” in job descriptions or classified ads to imply that older people will not be welcome.
  • Refuse to interview or hire otherwise qualified job applications because they are older than other applicants.
  • Exclude employees who are older than 40 years old from training opportunities and consideration for promotions or job advancement.
  • Describe older workers as less than capable to the workers’ faces or while talking about their performance with others.
  • Pressure older workers to retire or to accept reduced responsibilities and pay.
  • Fire older workers for no reason other than their age. Note, however, that some jobs do have statutory or widely accepted retirement ages.

It is generally a good idea to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Ohio ADA lawyer when you suspect an employer is engaging in age discrimination. This type of illegal employment activity is often subtle and difficult to prove. Even when it appears obvious to a victim of age discrimination what is happening, a manager or supervisor can try to cover up discriminatory intent by arguing that a younger job applicant or co-worker was simply better qualified, did better in interviews, or received better evaluations.

A Cleveland age discrimination lawyer will know how to analyze emails, job postings, personnel records, and corporate policies to identify discriminatory language and practices. The attorney can also work to arrange interviews and take statements from people involved in suspected ADEA violations.

You can schedule a no-cost, fully confidential consultation with an Cleveland employment lawyer by calling our Cleveland offices at 440.703.8550. We also make appointments online through this contact form.