Mandatory Retirement Age
Some Texas workers have a mandatory retirement age, but for the most part, mandatory or forced retirement is prohibited across the U.S. A mandatory retirement age is a set age at which you are required by industry custom or by law to retire if you hold specific jobs. Many people are uncertain about whether they really do need to retire or whether their employers are discriminating against them in forcing them out. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our Austin age discrimination attorneys have experience handling and litigating these matters. We will evaluate your specific circumstances to determine whether you have a claim and develop a strategy to best pursue it.A Mandatory Retirement Age is Generally Illegal
Mandatory or forced retirements are illegal for most jobs due to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Texas Labor Code. Both the ADEA and the Texas Labor Code prohibit age discrimination against workers who are at least 40 years old. This prohibition generally includes making it unlawful to have a mandatory retirement age. That is because forcing an employee to retire before they are ready can be discriminatory.
There are exceptions to the prohibition against mandatory retirements.. For example, certain policymaking officials may have mandatory retirement ages. Additionally, an employer may force an executive or person in a high policy-making position to retire at age 65 if that person is immediately entitled to a non-forfeitable retirement benefit of at least $44,000 per year. Under Texas law, the required non-forfeitable benefit is only $27,000 per year. In rare circumstances, an employer may be able to prove that age is a bona fide occupational qualification.
Notwithstanding these few exceptions, federal and state laws in Texas prohibit efforts by most employers to force workers to retire at a specific age. Claims of age discrimination must be brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Texas Workforce Commission.
The ADEA can be enforced against private companies that employ 20 or more people, local governments, and the federal governmental agencies. Generally, you will need to file a charge of discrimination alleging age discrimination with the EEOC first. The Texas Labor Code applies to private employers that have at least 15 employees and all state employees. Furthermore, it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a charge or complaint or participating in an investigation or proceeding related to mandatory retirement ages.
You may have grounds to bring a wrongful termination case if you were forced to take a retirement due to your age, and this was not required by law or related to a safety concern. However, in many cases, an employer will try to have an employee waive their rights in a severance agreement. The rules for waivers related to the benefits to which you may be entitled are defined under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, which is part of the ADEA.
The waiver is valid if you knowingly and voluntarily consented to it. Generally, it is wise not to immediately sign a severance agreement in cases in which you suspect that you were forced into retirement. Sometimes, money is offered, but it may not be as much as what you would obtain by filing an age discrimination claim. You are supposed to have a reasonable time period within which to consider the agreement, during which time you can consult an attorney.Discuss Your Age Discrimination Claim with an Austin Lawyer
If you have been forced to retire or are concerned that your employer is trying to institute a mandatory retirement age, you should consult an experienced Austin attorney to help you determine whether you have a claim. Wiley Walsh, P.C. also represents people who need an employment lawyer in cities such as Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment.