Is It Illegal to Discriminate Against Millennial Workers on the Basis of Age?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination in the work place. Pursuant to the ADEA, if you are over 40, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because of your age, and you are also protected from harassment. This includes failing to hire older workers, firing employees because of their age, and retaliating against employees if they complain about age discrimination. The law was designed to protect older workers who may be phased out of jobs as employers unlawfully seek to hire younger workers.

At the same time, many millennials assert that they face workplace discrimination because of their youth and their lack of experience and wonder about their rights. Numerous surveys have revealed that employers are reluctant to hire workers under 30, and that younger workers are often placed in lower level jobs, below their experience level. However, “age discrimination” based on youth is not explicitly prohibited by law. To combat employment challenges, career advisers suggest younger job seekers emphasize the unique specific skill set they can bring to a position. Both younger and older workers are generally more attractive to employers where they can point to specific reasons they should be hired over another candidate. Further, some industries – such as technology or startups – tend to welcome younger workers more so than others. However, those workers in protected classes such as women or minorities, are protected from employment discrimination based on race or gender regardless of age.

Additionally, for those younger workers who take internships to gain valuable experience, federal guidelines exist setting forth when an internship must be paid vs. unpaid. In some situations employers may designate that a job is an unpaid “internship” to avoid paying wages. Thus, although Title VII does not protect younger workers from discrimination based on their age, other provisions may provide work place protections.

For more information, or if you have faced any type of on the job age discrimination, please contact the experienced Georgia employment lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.