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Since 1967, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) has prohibited employers from making job decisions based on an employee's age, if the employee is at least 40 years old. Today, the ADEA also prohibits forced retirement, but that wasn't always the case: When it was first passed, the law protected workers only until they turned 65, at which point employers were free to do as they liked. In 1984, President Reagan lifted this cap to age 70, even though he was at the time serving in our nation's highest post at the unprotected age of 73! A few years later, the upper limit was ditched altogether.
An amendment to the ADEA, the Older Workers' Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), prohibits age discrimination in the provision of employment benefits. It also protects employees who are asked to waive their right to sue for age discrimination.
The articles in this section explain how the ADEA and OWBPA work and answer some common questions about workplace age discrimination.