The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made it clear that discrimination and harassment remain unlawful and the agency has worked to guide companies and workers to navigate their rights during the pandemic. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), among other health organizations, has stated that individuals over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of complications resulting from a Covid-19 infection, this does not cancel out any rights that older workers have at the workplace. Here are 4 rights that older employees should know about as they work through this international health crisis.
You have the right to go to work
You cannot be banned from the workplace due to your age or excluded from employment opportunities that are given to everyone else at your company. According to the EEOC, employers can’t prevent older workers from returning to work even if their reasoning aligns with protecting this group of individuals from Covid-19. It is illegal to exclude an employee from the workplace, or practice discriminatory behavior, based on their older age, even if the intentions are said to be “good.”
You don’t have a right to reasonable accommodation
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) doesn’t include a right to reasonable accommodation for older workers due to age. While there is not a law in place to make employers do anything, they can legally choose to provide flexibility to older workers (even if it results in younger workers being treated less favorably in comparison). It’s not an inherent right, like it is with the ADA, but it is a possibility.
You have rights under the ADA
Employees that are over the age of 65 may have medical conditions that would bring them under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you are an older worker with a disability, then in this circumstance, you would be able to request reasonable accommodation for the disability instead of your age.
Your employer can’t withdraw a job offer
The laws that prevent an employer from practicing discriminatory behaviors at the workplace also apply to the processes of recruitment and hiring. An employer cannot postpone the start date for an older worker, just because he or she is in the high risk category regarding Covid-19. Your job offer cannot be withdrawn due to a Covid-19 risk factor, but an employer can discuss remote options with you or ask you about your preference in regards to postponing the start date of employment.
The pandemic has challenged leaders and employers to face new obstacles, but that does not mean that your rights are any less important. The lawyers at Baldwin & Vernon are tirelessly working to protect workers’ rights during the pandemic; they are helping workers every day to understand their rights, so that they can fight for their freedom. If you are over the age of 65 and need assistance with your case, call Baldwin & Vernon at (816) 842-1102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to begin discussing your potential case.