My boss is starting a new program at work to promote young managers. People under the age of 35 are eligible to apply or a special position that puts them on the fast track to management. I’m 39 and not a manager yet, and I want to sue my boss for age discrimination because I think I should get to be in the program too. Can I do that?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment. However, only employees or applicants who are at least 40 years old are protected from age discrimination under the ADEA.
Restricting a job benefit or program to employees who are under the age of 35 would violate the ADEA. Because you aren't yet 40, you wouldn't be able to sue your employer to get into the program. Older employees at your company would have the right to challenge this discriminatory exclusion, however.
Some state laws prohibit age discrimination without imposing an age limit. If your state is one of them, you may have the right to challenge your employer's age restriction. Contact your state's fair employment practices agency to find out whether your state has an age discrimination law that protects workers who have not yet celebrated their 40th birthday.