By Margaret M. Gembala

About the Article

Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967 in order to eliminate age discrimination in employment. In its purpose and statutory language, the ADEA mirrors Title VII, its predecessor in fighting discrimination in the workplace. The methods of proof initially available under Title VII and the ADEA shared the requirement that the plaintiff present evidence of an adverse employment action with economic implications. However, in recognizing that the effects of discrimination are not always outwardly apparent, courts adopted a “hostile work environment” claim under Title VII. Unlike the other established claims under Title VII, this method of proof allows for a viable claim of discrimination even though a tangible, adverse employment action is not readily apparent. While the hostile work environment claim has been widely accepted under Title VII, the circuit courts have been hesitant to fully analyze the issue and adopt this claim under the ADEA. Ms. Gembala advocates the universal adoption among the courts of the hostile work environment claim under the ADEA, as it has been accepted under Title VII. Ms. Gembala supports her position through an analysis of the purpose of the ADEA, the policies that it promotes, and the similarities between the ADEA and Title VII.

About the Author

Margaret M. Gembala is a member of the University of Illinois College of Law class of 1999 and served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Elder Law Journal during the 1998-99 academic year.

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