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Can you be forced to retire early?

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Employment discrimination based on age is illegal in the U.S., but some say certain jobs are inappropriate for older employees. Unfortunately, too many employers hide behind this excuse.

Is your employer trying to force or coerce you into retiring early? Unexpected early retirement can have serious financial and health risks. Many retirement accounts and Medicare plans have a minimum age requirement. If your employer has attempted to convince you to retire early, it is important to know your legal rights.

Why would your employer want you to retire early?

There are many reasons your employer may not-so-subtly suggest retirement. Your boss may try to convince you by changing your working conditions, denying you training opportunities, evoking unequal strictness in performance evaluations, demoting you, increasing your severance package or promising other compensation.

An employer may benefit from your retirement in the following ways:

  • Creating a younger, "fresher" business image
  • Reducing the risk of paying workers' compensation
  • Providing lower salaries for new incoming employees
  • Reducing pension and health insurance payments or premiums
  • Easing the transition for new curriculum, management or business policies

Older employees are usually aware of their value, benefits and rights in the workplace. However, newer, younger employees may not be aware of shady business practices or their true worth as employees. No matter your age, you should know your rights as an employee.

Are there laws in Texas to protect you?

If you are at least forty years old, work for a medium or larger company or the government office, you are protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) from forced retirement. This includes the removal of responsibilities, retirement benefits, health benefits or a reduction in your salary.

If you believe your employer is wrongfully attempting to coerce you into retirement, you may wish to file an age discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission. Age does not have to be the only factor in your case, but if it is a determining factor, then it may have illegally discriminated against you.

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