Private Employers and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Written By: Christopher Romero |

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled private employers with less than 20 employees are subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This act bans covered employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are age 40 or older. Discrimination can be on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or in terms of employment.

Who’s subject to the ADEA?

In addition to private employers, states and their agencies, and political subdivisions are subject to the ADEA. Courts are still undecided on whether this 20-employee threshold that applies to private employers will also apply to public sector employers.

Public and private employers should be treated the same regarding the 20-employee minimum as strict compliance with the ADEA has already proven to be a substantial burden to small-sized employers. Small public sector employers endure the same burden as small private sector employees and therefore should be treated equally.

The ADEA – Looking Forward

As it stands, and until we can look to the United States Supreme Court for a resolution, there is a binding precedent for public sector employers within the Ninth Circuit’s boundaries including California and several other states.