Age discrimination in employment in Texas is prohibited under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. However, employers in Texas need to know that federal and state laws only protect against discrimination against employees who are 40 years of age or older. Further, employers may only be covered — and thus required to comply with the law — if they employ 15 or more workers (although the ADEA has an employee threshold of 20 or more employees, Chapter 21 sets the threshold at 15 and, thus, employers in Texas must abide by age discrimination laws if they have 15 or more employees). Our Frisco employment law attorneys can provide you with more information to help your business when it comes to understanding age discrimination claims in Texas and what you can do to avoid them.
Who is Protected Against Age Discrimination & Which Employers Must Comply?
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects both job applicants and employees who are 40 years old or older from discrimination based on age. Likewise, Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code clarifies that prohibitions against age discrimination only apply to an individual job applicant or employee who is 40 years of age or older.
Are all employers required to comply? According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the ADEA “applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government.” As such, one of your employees can only be eligible to file an age discrimination claim in Texas under federal law if you are a private employer with 20 or more employees, if you are an employment agency or labor organization, or if you are a government employer of any type.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) clarifies that state law “applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, and all state and local government entities no matter how many employees they have.” Whether an employee files a claim under federal or state law may depend upon the specific circumstances of their case, and the size of the employer. If your business is a private business and has fewer than 15 employees, federal and state laws protecting individuals aged 40 and older do not apply to your business, including your job applicants or current employees.
Examples of Prohibited Age Discrimination
If your business is covered by federal or state age discrimination laws, you need to ensure that your business is in compliance. The TWC and EEOC cite the following as some of the common ways in which unlawful age discrimination occurs in a covered workplace:
- A job ad that seeks only employees of a younger age, or advertises for a job in a way that includes any age requirements (unless a specific age is reasonably necessary for a worker to perform the job, such as a bartender who serves alcohol)
- Asking a job applicant for their age or date of birth during any pre-employment phase (As an employer, you can ask for this information for a lawful reason after hiring a job applicant.)
- Denying certain benefits to older employees
- Laying off workers aged 40 or older in order to hire younger workers for the same positions
You should also know that you can lawfully seek an ADEA release and waiver from an employee under some circumstances, but you should always seek assistance from an attorney to ensure that you do not violate state or federal law in the process.
Contact a Frisco Employment Lawyer Today
If you have questions about ensuring that your business is in compliance with age discrimination laws, or if you need assistance handling an age discrimination claim against your company, one of our Frisco employment law attorneys can help. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC to learn more.