seal of Idaho

Age Discrimination

Both state and federal laws ban discrimination in employment based on age. Workers and job candidates who are at least 40 years of age are protected under the state and federal laws. Unions and employment agencies (even if there is no fee for their services) are also covered by these same age discrimination laws. In order to simplify the language of this pamphlet, unions and employment agencies will be referred to as "employers."

Who Is Protected Under State Law?

Workers and job candidates 40 and older, employed or seeking employment with a public or private employer, are protected. Workers at private companies with fewer than five employees who don't contract with the state may have no protection.

What The Law Means:

The law protects those 40 and older from age discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationship. Included are prohibitions against the following:

Exceptions In The Law:

The law does not apply if an age requirement or limit is:

A bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). A BFOQ defense is covered by very strict rules. The employer must show that an age limit is reasonably necessary to the essence of the business; that all or substantially all of the persons within the age group would be unable to perform the duties in question; or that some members of the group possess a disabling characteristic which could not be detected through individual testing. The burden is on the employer to show that the job in question should have an age BFOQ.

Based on reasonable factors other than age. Sometimes age is not explicitly used as a limiting criterion, but a test or other selection device has an adverse impact against older persons. Employers have a burden to show that some other test with less of an adverse impact could not be used.

Part of a bona fide seniority system or employee benefit plan (except that no such seniority system or employee benefit plan will excuse mandatory retirement and/or refusal to hire based on age). In order for a seniority system to be "bona fide." length of service must be the main criterion, and employees must be provided with effective notice of the terms and conditions of such a seniority system.

An eligibility requirement for admission into a Joint Apprenticeship Training Program.

Who Enforces The Law?

In Idaho, both the state and federal governments enforce the law and share work in processing complaints that allege that both the federal and state age discrimination laws have been violated.

The Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) enforces Title 67, Chapter 59 of the Idaho Code, which bans employment discrimination based on disability, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, and age (40 and older). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The two agencies have a contractual relationship with each other enabling them to accept charges for one another to avoid duplication of effort, and to allow for the preservation of the parties' state and federal rights.

Federal workers and federal job candidates must file complaints with the equal employment opportunity office in the federal agency that allegedly discriminated against the individual.

Time Limitations (Statutes Of Limitation):

Individuals who wish to file age discrimination complaints should call the Idaho Human Rights Commission as soon as possible. The law does not require that internal remedies (such as a grievance procedure) be exhausted prior to filing a charge, but an administrative complaint must be filed with IHRC within one year of the alleged discrimination. A complaint may be filed in court within 90 days of dismissal of the Human Rights Commission administrative complaint. Generally speaking, persons who file an administrative complaint within 300 days of the last alleged discriminatory act will have met both state and federal time requirements, and will not face procedural problems if they decide to pursue their case in court. After 300 days, it is important to contact the Commission or an attorney to determine what avenues are still available through the agencies and/or the courts.

Do Parties To A Complaint Need A Lawyer?

No, a lawyer is not necessary during the administrative processing of a complaint; however, some parties do retain counsel.

You May Be Practicing Illegal Age Discrimination Without Knowing It

If you act on the following beliefs, you may be practicing illegal age discrimination without knowing it:


Retaliation against an individual who has engaged in a protected activity is unlawful. "Protected activity" means opposing conduct which a person, in good faith, reasonably believes to be unlawful under the anti-discrimination statutes or participating in Commission proceedings, which are set up for the enforcement of the anti-discrimination statutes.

Did you know that . . .

  1. The “Baby Boom” generation now represents 46% of the workforce.
  2. By 2014, more than half the U. S. population will be age 45 and older.
  3. In 2010, 25% of Americans will be at least 55 years old, 13% will have attained their 65th birthday.
  4. By 2030, 35 million more jobs will exist than there are people to fill them.
  5. Major changes are expected to occur in the workforce over the next 15 to 25 years. Females will increase while males decline. There will be more workers aged 45 to 55.
  6. Fewer people will retire early and many more will continue to work part-time after retiring from full-time jobs because:
    1. people are living longer and healthier lives and will want to remain active well past the "traditional" retirement age;
    2. increase in the social security retirement age; and
    3. overall changes in the economy are leaving greater numbers of people without sufficient retirement income from public, corporate, or private pension plans.
  7. Age discrimination arises from economic pressures within the competitive business environment and from a culturally determined (and primarily aesthetic) bias. Aging does not measurably diminish people’s ability to think or to physically perform most jobs. Personality traits remain stable throughout an individual’s life.
  8. Age discrimination, like discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin, is against the law; but, age discrimination is often especially difficult to prove. Of particular concern is the current “down-sizing” being practiced by many corporations and agencies. This frequently involves elimination of middle management positions, mostly filled by veteran employees, in the name of cost efficiency.