What Is the Age Discrimination Act of 1967? - Summary & Concept

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is an important employment law for both employees and employers to know. In this lesson, you will learn about what the law is and some of its key provisions. You will have an opportunity to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz.


The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employment discrimination based upon age if the applicant or employee is 40 years of age or older.

Key Concepts

While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does make age discrimination illegal for applicants and employees aged 40 and over, it does not protect employees under the age of 40. In other words, the ADEA does not prohibit employers from discriminating against employees under the age of 40.

The scope of the ADEA is fairly broad. The ADEA covers employment activities including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, layoffs, promotion, compensation, benefits, training and job assignments. Age-based harassment is illegal if it is so pervasive that it creates a hostile or offensive workplace for the victim or results in an adverse employment decision against the victim, such as a demotion or termination. Additionally, an employment policy or practice can also be illegal under the ADEA if it applies to all employees but has a negative impact on applicants or employees who are 40 years of age or older if it is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.

Investigation, Enforcement and Resolution

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the ADEA. It has the authority to investigate claims of discrimination brought by employees. It will ask the employer for a response, and then it will undertake an investigation. If the EEOC makes a finding of discrimination, it will try to settle the issue with the employer and employee. If it can't settle the dispute, it can file a lawsuit against the employer in court. If the employee disagrees with the EEOC's findings, the employee can file a lawsuit against the employer as well.


Let' say you are a 60-year old executive at a medical supply company. Your company is going through some downsizing because of the current recession. You are surprised to find that you are released while other executives with less experience and time at the company survived the downsizing. You meet with some of your close colleagues at your usual bar. They tell you that the scuttlebutt around the company is that the new management is axing any mid-level executive over the age of 55.

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