Most states have their own law against age discrimination in employment and agencies responsible for enforcing these laws. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) refers to these agencies as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAS) and they work collaboratively with EEOC to avoid duplication of effort while ensuring that older workers rights are protected under both federal and state law. For example:
- If a charge is filed with the state FEPA and it is also covered by federal law, the FEPA “ dual files ” the charge with the EEOC to protect federal rights. In this instance the charge is usually retained by the FEPA.
- If a charge is filed with the EEOC and is also covered by state law, EEOC “ dual files ” the charges with the state or local FEPA. In this instance the EEOC would retain handling the charge.
While the state laws are similar in intent to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), they have some differences. For example, some state laws may:
- Protect employees of different ages or prohibit age discrimination by employers with fewer than 20 employees.
- Protect workers in different age ranges, including people younger than the age 40 requirement of the federal law.
- Prohibit state employees from seeking lost wages or other money damages in charges filed under the ADEA.
- Have a shorter deadline for filing a charge with a state FEPA than the deadline for filing a charge with the federal EEOC.
- Have other procedural requirements that are inapplicable to filing a charge with the EEOC or a complaint with a federal court.
Navigating the federal and state laws on age discrimination, related regulations, and the working relationships between the agencies responsible for age discrimination at the state level can be a daunting experience for employers.
Age Discrimination: What Employers Need to Know.
This free AARP publication covers age discrimination laws, evolving issues, trends, and age equity in the workplace. The booklet is available in downloadable (pdf) format or in hard copy.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
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State and Local Agencies
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