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Can My Employer Force Me to Retire?


Generally, employers are prohibited from forcing employees to retire when such actions are motivated by an employee’s age. This means that if your employer has required that you retire, or even “strongly suggested” that you retire, your employment rights may have been violated.

What Is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination is a very real problem in the workplace that may not be discussed as often as other forms of discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) provides legal protections for employees 40 years old and older, preventing employers from discriminating against them based on their age.

Even so, age discrimination remains an issue at many companies – especially as the youngest Baby Boomers and oldest Gen-Xers approach retirement age.

In addition to forced retirement, age discrimination can present in the following ways:

  • Denial of job opportunities or promotions because of age
  • Providing fewer benefits or lower pay for older workers
  • Not allowing flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting or part-time work
  • Unfair performance evaluations based on age
  • Stereotyping older workers as being less tech-savvy or productive
  • Making jokes or comments about an employee’s age
  • Writing job postings that indicate a preference for younger workers
  • Denying training opportunities to older employees

Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue that can have far-reaching effects on those affected by it. It's important for employers and employees alike to be aware of this issue, understand what age discrimination looks like, and take steps to prevent it from happening.

Exceptions When Forced Retirement May Be Permitted

There are a few exceptions in which an employer may be within their rights to compel an employee to retire from the company.

These exceptions are as follows:

  • The employee can’t meet the physical or mental demands of the job. Certain professions require employees to have a certain physical or mental capacity that may diminish with age. With this limited exception, firefighters, police officers, and military servicemembers can all be forced to retire if their age has significantly impacted their ability to perform their duties.
  • The employee is an executive or high-level policymaker. Federal regulations on age discrimination may be relaxed when the older employee in question is a high-level executive or someone else who makes important decisions for the company. When their age impacts their ability to do their job effectively, an exception may apply.
  • The company isn’t large enough. Federal regulations may allow an employer with fewer than 20 employees to force an older employee to retire.

You Don’t Have to Tell Your Employer About Your Plans to Retire

Employees have no obligation to inform their employers of their retirement plans, especially when the conversation isn’t happening on their terms.

That being said, employees should understand their employers’ policies for disclosing an intent to retire because it can help them protect benefits (such as a pension) that they might otherwise lose.

Did You Experience Age Discrimination? Contact Us for Help.

At K2 Employment Law Group, we understand that age discrimination in the workplace is a very serious issue. We are here to help you fight against any unfair treatment or actions you may have faced when someone targeted you for your age.

Our experienced attorneys can assist you in filing a claim or taking legal action against the offending party. We can also help you get compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, or other damages that may have been caused. We are committed to helping those who have faced age discrimination in the workplace and can work with you every step of the way to ensure that justice is served.

For more information, contact us online and request a free consultation.