When many in South Florida think of workplace discrimination, they immediately think of employees being unfairly treated on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion or sex. However, employees are sometimes discriminated against in the workplace on other unfair grounds. One of these is age.

Workplace age discrimination is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Just this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a rule to clarify the scope of this law for employers, employees and the courts.

The new rule is set to be published in the Federal Register today, and it specifies that the ADEA prohibits any practices or policies that have an effect of harming older people more than younger people–unless the practice or policy is supported by a reasonable factor that is not age.

The EEOC said in a statement: “The final rule strikes the appropriate balance between protecting older workers from unreasonable business decisions and preserving and employer’s ability to make reasonable business decisions.”

The rule aligns the ADEA with Supreme Court rulings, including a 2008 decision that stated employers have to prove there existed a reason other than age when layoffs seemed to target older employees.

While this new rule should help to clarify the ADEA for both employers and employees, the ADEA like many Florida state and federal employment laws statutes is quite complicated. It is often wise for employers and employees to work with employment law attorneys to ensure that employment law statutes are being interpreted accurately before taking any action on the basis of these laws.

Source: Business Insurance, “EEOC issues Age Discrimination in Employment Act rule,” Judy Greenwald, March 29, 2012