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Georgia’s state code prohibits discrimination against workers ages 40 to 70 based on their age. The law requires employers to focus not on age but on an employee’s ability to perform the job.

Even if your health plan won’t cover such employees, you must hire them if they’re willing to sign a waiver of benefits. Of course, if the state concludes that you’re using your health plan as a subterfuge to refuse or discourage older employees from applying, you will be held liable.

You may require an employee to retire at age 70, but not sooner unless the person in question meets the law’s definition of an executive.

Caution: Georgia is serious about age discrimination. Employers, supervisors or managers who violate the age-discrimination code are subject to misdemeanor criminal prosecution by the Secretary of State. That’s right: Age discrimination can saddle you with a fine and a criminal record.

For more information on the Georgia law, go to the Secretary of State’s Web site at http://sos.georgia.gov/. To review the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, go to www.eeoc.gov

Excerpted from Georgia's 11 Most Critical Employment Laws, a special bonus report available to subscribers of HR Specialist: Georgia Employment Law.

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