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Avoiding age discrimination litigation

There are many reasons that an employer in Texas may decide to end an employment relationship with a worker, and it is often a difficult decision, no matter how necessary. Disappointment or anger over the loss of a job may lead an employee who is 40 years old or older to believe that the action is a result of age discrimination rather than his or her own failure. Understanding federal and state antidiscrimination laws that deal with age can help an employer to eliminate the appearance of wrongful termination and prevent the negative consequences of litigation.

The AARP explains that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects employees over the age of 40 from age discrimination in many circumstances, including forced retirement as well as termination. There are some job-specific exceptions where age may be a factor, though, and the law applies only to workers who are classified as employees and not independent contractors.

Federal, state and local government agencies of any size may not discriminate based on age of the worker. The size of a private company may affect whether the employee is protected, though. Federal law states that employers with fewer than 20 workers are exempt from this law. The Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 expands the protection against age-related termination for employees in Texas companies with 14 or fewer employees.

In some circumstances, it may be necessary for an employee to be able to perform certain physical tasks that are not feasible for an older worker. When there is evidence that business operations could be affected by the age of the employee, an employer may be able to impose an age restriction.

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