Discrimination Law

Can You Legally Force Someone to Retire or Is It Age Discrimination?

For many of us, retirement means freedom, the chance to travel, and the ability to throw an alarm clock out the window. But what if you are not ready to retire?

When the economy crashed in 2008, some people's retirement accounts nosedived, and they were forced to go back to work. For others, they enjoy work and have nothing else to do. Should they be forced to retire once they hit a certain age?

Age Discrimination Law Overview

There is some debate over whether you can force someone to retire at a certain age. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (part of the ADEA), workers over 40 years old have certain rights.

This includes the fact that it is unlawful to discriminate against a person based on their age during:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Training

However, the ADEA may not be able to help you if the company:

  • Has another reason to fire you
  • Pushes you toward retirement (but does not force it)
  • Employs under 20 people

For example, an employer could claim that you are no longer able to perform your job duties and discharge you for nonperformance.

Legally Forcing Someone to Retire

There are a few exceptions in which a company can force a person to retire. This includes executives or high-level policymakers if they are entitled to receive retirement benefits of at least $44,000 per year.

Additionally, some state and local government employees may be forced to retire by a certain age. However, a regular employee in the private sector would not be subject to forced retirement at age 65.

Should A Person Be Forced to Retire At 65?

There are arguments for and against forced retirement. Younger people are generally in favor of forced retirement age because it provides:

  • Additional work
  • Opportunities for promotions that may not otherwise be available
  • Employers may approve of the system because of:
  • Fewer pension payouts to people who live longer
  • Savings on healthcare costs (since younger workers are generally healthier)
  • Savings on labor costs (those with less experience are usually paid less)

However, some companies would prefer not to force out an employee who can still do their job because of their experience, intangibles, and job performance.

Additionally, the individual may not want to retire or may have trouble living on a fixed income at that age. As of right now, there are no laws forcing retirement in the United States, making it "a matter of choice rather than compulsion" when one retires.