Thursday, October 25, 2007

Age Discrimination

I assume anyone with fifteen or more employees knows of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. If you do not, then read this article AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACT. Mr. Spero does a very good job of explaining the federal ADEA.

Those Indiana employers with fewer than fifteen employers may not be aware that Indiana has its own age discrimination law and protects employees between the age of forty (40) years and under the age of seventy (70) years.

If you do not know about this law, then you are probably in the mainstream. I think the Indiana law pretty toothless for employees but possessing some pitfalls for employers. Knowing just how effective this law is hard to gauge - its enforcement is hidden from the public.

IC 22-9-2-9
Hearing; publicity
Sec. 9. No publicity shall be given to any proceeding before the commissioner of labor, either by the commissioner of labor or any employee thereof, provided that the commissioner may publish the facts in the case of any complaint upon which a determination has been made.
(Formerly: Acts 1965, c.368, s.9.)
I do not think I am any different than any other lawyer in this respect: not knowing how a law is interpreted by a court or an administrative agency drives me nuts. How else do we know how to advise our clients? (As an aside, how do citizens know that the law is being enforced.)

My thinking on this statute is that it poses a problem by its very obscurity. Employers could easily comply with the law but those who do not are probably saved by their employee's ignorance of the law.

As for employees, those people most likely to be plaintiffs, the law does not provide for attorney fees. I can see the policy reasons for this omission but this statute offers little solace for employees.