Workplace Inclusion


You have the responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for workers.

Age discrimination occurs when a job applicant or employee is treated less favorably because of their age. It is illegal for you to discriminate against someone because they are age 40 or older. In general, this means that you can’t: 

  • fire,
  • reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments to,
  • force to take leave,
  • provide lesser benefits (such as employer-provided insurance) unless justified by their cost, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for someone 40 or older because of their age.


It is not illegal to favor older workers based on age, even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older. 


Discrimination can occur even if the discriminator is 40 or older. You must not allow managers, co-workers, or others in the workplace to harass individuals who are 40 or older because of their age. 


An employment practice that applies to everyone, regardless of age, can be unlawful if it negatively impacts older workers more than younger workers and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age. 


Although no federal law protects younger workers from age discrimination, some states and localities have such laws. It should also be noted that federal laws place certain restrictions on the employment of workers under the age of 18. 

Two older employees having a meeting

We’re here to help.

For assistance, please contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):


Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.