Practice Area:

Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age Discrimination - Boston Employment Law


Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age discrimination in the workplace is unlawful under both Massachusetts and federal law, but it’s not always easy to identify. It may be easier to spot discriminatory practices based upon gender, disability, or national origin than biases centering on age. At a time when companies focus on efficiency and technology, employees may face prejudice as younger, cheaper employees advance.  If you’re feeling as though you’re being discriminated against as an employee or if you’re on the forefront of making some very difficult decisions for your company, Rodman Employment Law is here to help you.

Executives and business owners trust Rodman Employment Law with their employment law matters because of our distinctive vantage point. Our attorneys understand the employment law landscape from both sides, translating to calculated, efficient, and holistic representation. We are selective, representing only those clients that we believe in. We’re always on the right side.

What is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination in the workplace, also sometimes referred to as ageism, can be identified when a company uses age as a determining factor, or a sole contributor, to a decision made against a worker’s employment. This type of discrimination can occur during any stage of employment but is often noticed most during key stages of advancement (hiring, promotions, layoffs, etc.).

If you are age 40 years or older and have been negatively impacted by a decision that affects your employment, you may have experienced age discrimination.

It is important to note that some acts that may seem motivated by bias are actually lawful despite your age. If your abilities make you unfit or unsuitable for a certain position due to the nature of the required tasks, the situation may not support a claim for age discrimination.

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Age Discrimination Under Federal and Massachusetts Law

Both the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Massachusetts’ Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) prohibit age discrimination for workers who are aged 40 or older; however, the state version of the law arguably offers more protection. For example, FEPA makes it unlawful to aid and abet discriminatory practices, so you may have an age-based cause of action against anyone within the workplace environment. You may be able to sue a supervisor since employers are strictly liable for the actions of management under Massachusetts law

You may have a claim against companies other than your direct employer such as an external vendor or business partner. As the statute applies to an employer’s liability for its employees actions, your employer is only liable if it has knowledge of the acts of age discrimination and there is evidence that the employer did nothing to stop it.

Recent Cases Involving Age Discrimination

Some hypothetical cases regarding age discrimination in Massachusetts and throughout the US include such verdicts as:

  • A finding in favor of a job candidate where the potential employer stated in a job description that it would only consider “inexperienced” applicants;
  • A U.S. Supreme Court case that raised the bar on age discrimination cases, requiring plaintiffs to show that age was a motivating, “but for” factor in an adverse employment action; and,
  • A verdict in favor of a 49-year-old age discrimination claimant who was terminated and replaced by a 42-year-old worker, because – while the new employee was still over 40 years old – he was substantially younger.

Take Action to Protect Your Rights in an Age Discrimination Claim

If you believe you were discriminated against because of your age by a supervisor, co-worker, vendor, or another business partner of your employer, it is important to protect your rights. Consider:

  • Taking notes about suspicious incidents, comments, or remarks, including the date, time, and circumstances surrounding the acts;
  • Retain copies of emails or messages that may indicate age-based bias;
  • Review an employee manual that covers your employer’s policies about filing a claim or complaint; and,
  • Talk to your company’s human resources department, if possible.

You should also consult with an attorney that has specific experience in federal and Massachusetts law on age discrimination. There are certain requirements for filing a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). For one, it is necessary to exhaust your administrative remedies before you can file a lawsuit against your employer for age discrimination.

In addition, keep in mind that there are statute of limitations that applies to age-based discrimination claims. You must file with the MCAD and/or EEOC within 300 days of the date you experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

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Age Discrimination Links & Resources

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resource providing information about age discrimination.


EEOC web page explaining details of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).


The original text from the ADEA as provided by the EEOC. Stated goal: “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.”


The National Bureau of Economic Research provides thoughts on the ADEA and its future.


Resources provided by the Department of Labor regarding age discrimination.


Information provided by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD),  for Massachusetts as well as nationally, about age discrimination and the corresponding laws.


The Massachusetts state law against age discrimination.


Reference for definitions of terminology as used in the state law against age discrimination.


“The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”


Statistics on Age Discrimination

  • In the United States, one out of every five people are age 55 or older which accounts for roughly 33 million people.
  • 64% of the workforce has been a victim of or has witnessed age discrimination in the workplace.
  • 58% of the workforce believe age-related discrimination begins against employees in their 50’s.
  • In 2013, more than 21,000 complaints for age discrimination were filed with the EEOC. In 1997, there were just over 15,000 complaints filed.
  • On average, it takes someone age 55 or over three months longer to find a job than a younger person.
  • Only 29% of older workers that are close to retirement say that they either have enough savings to retire or are very close to having enough savings.
  • The percentage of older workers who say that they plan to work for several more years, so they can retire in a comfortable manner is 29%.
  • 16% of retirees say that they may have to return to work because they can’t make ends meet with their retirement.
  • During the 2021 Fiscal Year, the EEOC received 12,965 charges under the ADEA.[1]
  • There were 13,060 resolutions reached via the EEOC/ADEA in the 2021 Fiscal Year.[2]
  • There was $83.8 million in monetary benefits in 2021 resulting from the resolution of age discrimination charges with the EEOC.[3]
  • Based on a study by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco[4]:
    • As women get older, they receive a 47% lower callback rate for administrative jobs and 36% lower callback rate in sales jobs.
    • As men get older, they receive a 30% lower callback rate for sales jobs.
  • The EEOC received 103 Charges of Age Discrimination for Massachusetts in the 2021 fiscal year.[5]
    • The age discrimination charges made to the EEOC in Massachusetts made up 32.7% of the total claims for all categories received by the EEOC in Massachusetts.[6]
  • The MCAD received 473 complaints of age discrimination during 2021. This made up 10% of the total complaints the MCAD received for the year.[7]
[1] https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/adea.cfm [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] https://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/publications/economic-letter/2017/february/age-discrimination-and-hiring-older-workers/ [5] https://www.eeoc.gov/data/enforcement-and-litigation-statistics-0 [6] Ibid. [7] https://www.mass.gov/doc/mcad-fy21-annual-report/download

A Massachusetts Age Discrimination Lawyer Can Help

At Rodman Employment Law, our attorneys recognize that age discrimination laws can be intimidating, especially when you rely on your employment your livelihood. You do not have to face unlawful, age-based practices alone. Our team has the legal experience necessary to advise you on your age discrimination claim, backed by more than 50 years of combined experience serving clients in Boston, Newton, MA, and throughout the Greater Boston Area.

For more information on how we can help, please contact us. Our legal team can assist with all aspects of a case based upon age discrimination, from gathering evidence to pursuing a lawsuit in court.

Because we are a boutique firm, we can offer personalized, flexible representation that you expect, along with more than seven decades of experience. To schedule a consultation regarding your age discrimination claim or any other employment matter, please call (617) 820-5250.