The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is so concerned about the rise in age-discrimination filings that it recently held a public hearing on the matter.

"Age discrimination is an equal opportunity plague," acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said. "It is not limited to members of a particular class or a particular race. It is not limited to particular industries or particular regions. And it is not limited to a particular gender."

The EEOC says claims of discrimination based on age rose almost 30 percent in 2008 over the year earlier, and it expects the number to keep rising in the current economic climate.

Only retaliation was cited more in EEOC filings.

Witnesses at the hearing testified that the Age Discrimination Act in Employment (ADEA), passed by Congress in 1967, has been decimated by several recent Supreme Court decisions that curtail the ability of older workers to challenge age discrimination.

Employer and human resources professionals should obtain a copy of Personnel Concepts’ ADEA Age Discrimination Compliance Kit to ensure all laws and regulations are being observed.