Because the rights against age discrimination are personal to the victim of discrimination, they can be waived by that person under certain circumstances. A waiver of age discrimination rights precludes an employee from bringing an age discrimination claim. In order to waive rights under the ADEA (the Age Discrimination and Employment Act), the waiver must be “knowing and voluntary”, and it must be in writing. If a court finds that the waiver is not knowing and voluntary, the waiver will be invalid, and the employee will not be barred from filing a claim under the ADEA.
A waiver is valid only if it is in writing, and the writing must specifically refer to the ADEA rights, which are being waived. Also, the employee must get something of value in exchange for the waiver, in addition to what he or she is already entitled to from the employment relationship. This requirement can be met through increasing the employee’s pay if they agree to waive their ADEA rights, or providing better retirement benefits, if they agree to retire at a certain age.
These waivers usually come into play during a settlement negotiation: if the parties settle, both of them are giving up their rights to have their claims heard in court. They might also come up if an employment agreement is being negotiated: a contract might call for mandatory requirement at a certain age, which is a waiver of the right against age discrimination. These waivers are valid.