Your Guide To The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA)

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Age discrimination in the workplace can take a wide range of different forms. One of the most underappreciated forms of age discrimination is the intentional targeting of older, more senior employees in layoffs and staff reductions. A federal law called the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) helps to provide important legal protections in these types of cases. In this article, you will find an overview of four key things that you should understand about the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.

  1. The ADEA Applies to Employers With 20 or More Employees 

Signed into law in 1990, the OWBPA is an amendment to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). An employee is protected under the OWBPA/ADEA if they work at an employer that has 20 or more total workers. Notably, the ADEA prohibits all forms of age-based discrimination, including discriminatory practices in hiring, promotion, firing, and conditions of employment.

  1. The OWBPA Prohibits Age Discrimination in Employee Benefits 

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act is designed to protect the workplace benefits earned by older employees. It was put into place to address a problem—businesses and organizations targeting the benefits of older workers in order to save money. The OWBPA prohibits several types of discriminatory practices, including:

  • The use of an employee’s older age as a justification for discrimination in the provision of workplace benefits;
  • The targeting of older workers in layoffs, staff reductions, and/or corporate restructurings; and
  • Requirements that make older employees waive their right to bring an age-based discrimination claim. 
  1. An Older Worker’s Severance Agreement Must be “Knowing and Voluntary” 

The OWBPA has specific rules and regulations in place regarding the use of severance agreements. An employer covered by the federal ADEA must comply with certain standards when asking older workers (40 years of age or older) to waive their right to file an age discrimination lawsuit.

Employers and employees have the right to include an age discrimination waiver as part of a severance package. However, assuming the employer is covered by the OWBPA, that waiver will only be legally valid if the employee signed it “knowingly” and “voluntarily.” 

  1. Mandatory Consideration and Revocation Period for Age Discrimination Waivers 

The OWBPA also requires covered employers to include a mandatory consideration and revocation period for any severance agreements that waive age discrimination claims. If a single worker is signing the agreement, there must be a minimum 21 day consideration and revocation period. If multiple workers are signing similar agreements, then the minimum mandatory consideration and revocation period is 45 days. This regulation helps to ensure that older workers are able to make an informed decision when waiving their right to file an age discrimination lawsuit.

Get Help From an Age Discrimination Attorney in Florida 

Age discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable. Older workers should not be denied opportunities in the workplace. If you have any questions about the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), contact an experienced Florida age discrimination lawyer for help.

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