The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC is a federal agency which has the responsibility of enforcing federal laws which prohibit discrimination of any kind in the workplace. Employment laws are in place which make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or an employee based on the individual’s color, race, gender, state of pregnancy, religion, age (40 years old and above), national origin, genetic information or disability. Retaliation against a person who complains about or reports discrimination, files a discrimination claim, or participates in an investigation about employment discrimination is also prohibited. Most employers who have a minimum of 15 employees must abide by EEOC laws. In age discrimination cases the company has to have at least 20 employees. Most employment agencies and labor unions are covered by EEOC laws as well. Discrimination laws are applicable to all kinds of work situations such as hiring and firing, harassment, wages, benefits, training and promotions.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act or ADEA is a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on an individual’s age. There are also state specific laws which make it illegal to discriminate against workers based on age. Employees who are 40 years old or older are protected from age discrimination under the ADEA. In 1990 the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) was added as an amendment to protect older employees from being denied benefits by employers.