Sunday, July 08, 2007

EEOC Updates Regulations - Employers Can Favor Older Workers

The EEOC changed its regulations for employers to clarify that employers can favor older workers without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act on July 6, 2007.

Here's the scenario - a group of employees between the ages of forty and forty-nine sued their employer for age discrimination when it eliminated its future obligation to pay retiree health benefits for any employee then under fifty years old. The Supreme Court rejected their claim, finding that the ADEA's prohibition against discrimination ``because of age'' only prevents discrimination that favors younger workers, not actions that place older workers in a more favorable position.

The ADEA only prohibits discrimination based on relatively older age, not discrimination based on age generally. So the EEOC deleted language in its ADEA regulations that prohibited discrimination against relatively younger individuals. The new rule explains that the ADEA only prohibits employment discrimination based on old age and, therefore, does not prohibit employers from favoring relatively older individuals. This change was made to conform them to the Supreme Court's holding in General Dynamics Land System, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581 (2004).

The EEOC's new regulations are posted at