Retirement, for many of us, it’s a dream of freedom, the chance to travel, and the ability to throw an alarm clock out the window.  But what if you’re not ready to retire? Should you be forced to retire once you hit a certain age?   Once the economy crashed, 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.  Judge Wesley Brown, a U.S. District Judge, is 103 but is still hearing federal cases.  Should he be forced to retire just because he is over 100?

Can You Legally Force Someone To Retire Or Is It Age Discrimination?

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 are awarded certain rights.  This includes the fact that it is unlawful to discriminate against a person (whether in hiring, firing, promotion, demotion or training) based on their age.   However, if the company has another reason to fire you, or push you towards retirement (or employs under 20 people), then the ADEA may not be able to help you.  For example, an employer could claim that you are no longer able to perform your job duties and discharge you for nonperformance.

When Can You Force Someone To Retire?

There are a few exceptions in which a company can force a person to retire.  This includes executives or high-level policy makers, 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?

In the UK, British employers use to be able to force people to retire at 65.  The reason for this change in policy is based on lessening the pension payouts to Britons who live longer.  However, from an employer perspective, having an age ceiling could be seen as beneficial.  Not only would a company be able to save on healthcare costs (since younger workers are generally more healthy), but they may also save on labor costs (those with less experience are usually paid less).  Younger people are generally in favor of a forced retirement age because it provides additional work and promotional opportunities that may not otherwise be available. However, some companies would prefer to not have to force 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.  If nothing else, this would provide more reason for a person to lie about their age (and potentially get plastic surgery as one woman did in order to look younger).  Finally, shouldn’t it be “a matter of choice rather than compulsion” when one retires?