Many people see older employees as valuable assets to the company because they’ve been doing their job duties for a while. Unfortunately, some companies chose to target employees because of their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) offers protection from discrimination for workers who are 40 years old and older.

Employers can’t take negative employment actions just because of someone’s age. This includes things like job assignments, hours, pay, promotions and any other terms of employment. Instead, they must treat people who are over 40 in the exact same way they treat others who are younger. This includes how they handle benefits for workers.

The law also forbids employers from harassing or allowing the harassment of workers based on their age. This means that there should be a firm policy that prohibits the behaviors from supervisors, co-workers, vendors, customers and anyone else the workers come into contact with while they’re doing their job duties.

One key that many people miss when it comes to this is that one single, isolated incident isn’t necessarily a problem. Things like simple teasing or similar things that aren’t serious aren’t forbidden. The behavior becomes illegal when it starts to create a hostile workplace or if the result is a negative employment action made against the worker.

Anyone who feels they’ve been the victim of age discrimination and who is at least 40 years old can opt to take legal action. Learning about your rights and working with someone who knows about these situations can benefit you as you try to move forward after this offensive work-related issue.