The ADEA applies to employers with at least 20 employees. It protects individuals who are at least 40 years of age.
As with Title VII, among other things, an employee (or former employee) may show that he/she was unlawfully: (a) terminated; (b) subjected to a hostile working environment; (c) not hired; or (d) treated significantly worse than others not in the protected class. However, the burden of proof and remedies in an ADEA claim differ from those in Title VII.
Specifically, a company may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, due to the person’s age. To prevail on an ADEA claim, it must be shown that the employer would not have taken the employment action (termination, failure to hire, or less favorable treatment) except for the employee’s age. The employee’s age must have been the factor that made a difference.
A company also may not retaliate against any employee for opposing age discrimination or participating in protected activities, including complaints or investigations of age discrimination. An employer has engaged in unlawful retaliation under the ADEA if there is: (1) protected opposition to ADEA discrimination or participation in an ADEA proceeding; (2) adverse action by the employer subsequent to or contemporaneous with such protected activity; and, (3) a causal connection between such activity and the employer’s adverse action.