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  • Retaliate against an individual for com- plaining about age discrimination or for helping the government investigate an age discrimination charge.

Employment agencies and labor organizations with more than 20 employees are also covered by the ADEA in their capacity as employers.

Employee Remedies: The ADEA allows an employee or job applicant who believes they have experienced age discrimination to file a charge against an employer, employment agency, union, or government agency. Charges are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal government agency that is responsible for investigating the charge; determining if the charges are valid and if so, seeking a resolution by mediation or court action.

An employee who wishes to file a charge must do so within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action or when he or she first became aware of it, whichever occurred first. (If the employee’s state has its own age dis- crimination law and an agency to enforce it, the employee may have up to 300 days to file with the EEOC.)


State Age Discrimination Laws Every state has its own law against age discrim- ination. While these laws generally are similar in intent to the ADEA, they may have impor- tant differences—for example, they may pro- tect employees of different ages or prohibit age discrimination by employers with fewer than 20 employees. Some state laws protect workers in different age ranges, including people who are younger than age 40. (The laws are espe- cially important to state employees, who, as a result of a 2001 Supreme Court decision, are not allowed to seek lost wages or other money damages under the ADEA.)

A separate charge of discrimination under state law usually must be filed with a state agency responsible for enforcing state fair employment law. The timeline for filing a charge with a state fair employment agency may be shorter than the deadline for filing a charge with the federal EEOC. Many states also have other procedural requirements that are inapplicable to filing a charge with the EEOC or a complaint with a federal court.

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