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Responding to age discrimination in the workplace: work with experienced advocate

Last time, we began looking at the issue of age discrimination, which is an obstacle in the workplace for an increasing number of Americans as the baby boomer generation ages without leaving the workplace. Again, federal law prohibits discrimination against workers 40 years of age and older in both hiring and employment, and although employers are not prohibited from inquiring about age in hiring, such inquiries can sometimes indicate discriminatory intent.

In most cases, employers engaging in age discrimination are going to be very cautious about how they do so, defending questionable job requirements and inquiries as having a non-discriminatory purpose. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—the agency responsible for handling discrimination complaints and pursuing discrimination litigation—carefully scrutinizes age-related pre-employment inquiries to determine whether they are made for lawful purposes. 

Although federal law does not prohibit employers from engaging in age discrimination against workers younger than the age of 40, Minnesota law does. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, employers may not discriminate against workers of any age on the basis of age. The law applies to employers of all sizes.

Those who believe they may have been subjected to age discrimination in hiring or employment need to understand their options in to hold employers accountable. This is particularly important when the adverse action led to significant financial loss. Minnesota law and federal law involve separate process for filing a discrimination complaint, and different process for pursuing litigation based on age discrimination. Working with an experienced attorney helps ensure an individual has the guidance and advocacy necessary to navigate the process and present the strongest possible case.

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