Robert F. Tully


The purpose of the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) is "to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age." ADEA covers workers who are at least forty years of age but less than sixty-five. The setting of these age limits, particularly the lower limit, was the cause of much debate during the formation of the law. After examining the problems of older persons seeking employment, Congress concluded that the unemployment rate for older workers was much higher than for younger workers. It found that the setting of arbitrary age limits had become common within industry and that the only effective way to combat this problem was to enact legislation which would eliminate age discrimination in employment hiring practices. There are, however, exceptions under the ADEA. Excluding the procedural issues of notice and jurisdiction, the most litigated section of ADEA is the bona fide employee benefit plan exception. This Note will examine that exception and the conflicting court interpretations of it. These interpretations deal with the applicability of the statute to benefit plans effectuated before its passage, and the validity of involuntary retirement before age sixty-five pursuant to a bona fide employee benefit plan.