Federal employment laws protect workers from cradle to grave, but in very different ways.
For young workers, the law prevents them from performing dangerous tasks or working too many hours during the week. After age 40, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) kicks in, protecting employees from bias in hiring, firing, benefits or promotions. The ADEA applies only to companies with 20 or more workers.
State laws, however, are often more restrictive. Many apply the age-bias laws to smaller companies. Some even set lower or no age limits on protection, opening the door for so-called youth-discrimination claims.
About 20 percent of all charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission include age discrimination, but that has been declining in recent years.
The median age of U.S. workers is projected to exceed 40 by 2002, and a recent AARP study found that most baby boomers plan to continue worki...(register to read more)