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Can Employers Assign Work Based on Employees’ Ages?

There is a common misconception among the American population that all older workers are treated with respect. Since they’ve worked so long, you would think that they would be treated with kindness and respect, honored for their hard work in the industry, and turned to when others newer on the job need guidance.

Can Employers Assign Work Based on Employees’ Ages?

The reality is that isn’t the case at all. There are many situations in which older individuals are treated unfairly by their employers. They may be mocked for their older age, told they’re too old for a promotion, or given menial tasks instead of valuable work.

Employers Are Not Allowed To Discriminate Based on Age

If there is anything that a worker 40 years of age or older should be aware of, it’s that employers are not allowed to discriminate based on age.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently during any part of the employment process. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, strictly prohibits this discrimination for those 40 or older. Employers should also be aware of parental care leave singapore for other policies.

For most workplaces, this means that anyone who is 40 or older may not be discriminated during:

  • Hiring
  • Promotion decisions
  • Benefits designations
  • Job assignments
  • Pay assignment
  • Training assignment

Age discrimination laws also protect people during the hiring and firing processes.

Some Employers Aren’t Covered by the ADEA

It’s important to point out that not all employers are covered by the ADEA. According to the U.S. EEOC, employers have to have a certain number of employees before they’ll be covered by the laws.

So, a small business with one or two people may be able to discriminate strictly because of size. The number of people a business must employ varied by sector.

For example, private/business employees are covered against age discrimination once the business has at least 20 or more employees who have worked there for at least 20 weeks.

At the state and federal levels, age discrimination protections are available to all employees at all times. The same is true of employment agencies.

Labor unions and joint apprenticeship committees are prohibited from discriminating against employees due to age once they operate a hiring hall or have 25 people who are members of the union/committee.

Hiring Someone Age-Appropriate Isn’t Always Illegal

There are times when hiring someone of a specific age is important for the purposes of a job. For example, if there is a new theater performance, the hiring manager and stage director may discuss how many children they need to fill roles as well as how many adults.

While they cannot discriminate against older adults looking to take on adult-based roles, they can place reasonable restrictions on people taking roles they won’t fulfill correctly.

For example, a 40-year-old performer will not be able to adequately fulfill the role that a 10-year-old performer is required for in Annie or another children’s production.

When the role itself depends on a person’s age, then being discerning about age is appropriate.

Can Employers Assign Work Specifically Due to Your Age?

No, they cannot. Under the EEOC, you are protected against an employer giving you work based on your age if you are 40 or older.

Remember, younger people may also be protected against this if their state has additional laws and requirements in place.

Here’s an example. If Jane is working at a law firm and is 42 years old, the firm shouldn’t suggest that Tom, a 30-year-old man, takes over the trial case because he looks younger and would be a familiar age to the jury.

That’s unreasonable and discriminatory. Similarly, Jane should not be assigned only desk work because others believe that her age hinders her in a public speaking role.

Employers are not allowed to limit work based on age, either. For instance, if Faye (60) works in a secretarial role, the employer should not start limiting her hours of work to get her to stay home more often or encourage her to quit or retire.

The employer also cannot start assigning her work “behind the scenes” to place a younger secretary in the front office. Not only could that be age discrimination, but it could also border or sexism in the workplace.

That’s unfair and discriminatory of the employer. Age should play no role in the distribution of work in a work environment.

Basing any employment decision on the age of a person in the workplace could end up coming back to hurt the employer if the employee decides to pursue a claim against them.

What Should You Do if You Are Discriminated Against on the Job?

If you believe that you are a victim of age discrimination, it’s important for you to begin building your case.

One of the most important things you can do is to write down the dates, times, and locations of events that were discriminatory against you.

For example, if your supervisor has made ageist statements to you, write those statements down. Write down the names of any witnesses and be sure to place the date and time, to the best of your recollection, on that note as well. Keep good track of each and every time this happens.

Then, go to your human resources department.

If you don’t have a human resources department or the department ignores your concerns, then you may want to look deeper into your legal rights.

If you feel that you have missed a promotion, are given too much or too little work due to your age, or are discriminated against in other ways, then you may want to make a legal claim against your company.


It’s valuable to work with an experienced employment attorney in Florida to make a claim against an employer for age discrimination. It’s unreasonable for anyone to treat you differently just because you’re a few years older than another worker.

With the right documentation and support, you can make a claim and fight against this unfair treatment, so that you can keep your job, get a promotion you deserve, or be compensated for the frustration and hurt that you’ve had to deal with.


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