Protecting your company against a claim of age discrimination

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After looking at your employees, you made the decision to let some of them go. You probably did not even think of this, but the age span of every worker laid off was a broad one. Some were in their thirties and one or two were in their fifties and sixties.

You are reading a letter from a law firm, which accuses you of age discrimination. What do you do now?

After letting a long-time employee go, you learn they are filing a lawsuit for age discrimination

Your only goal in letting these employees go was to reduce your payroll budget. You looked at the skill levels of each employee, as well as their level of commitment to your organization.

You are well aware that age discrimination is outlawed by state and federal law. This is why you have consulted with employment authorities every time you consider employee actions.

What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination takes place when an employer treats either a job applicant or an employee differently based on their age. This treatment is often less favorable.

The Act is called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or, ADEA. Job applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older are protected under this Act — it does not protect younger workers.

What this law prohibits

ADEA prohibits discrimination based on age in any area of employment. This includes hiring, job assignments, promotions, training, benefits, pay, benefits, layoffs or firing.

Harassing an employee over 40 is also unlawful. Harassment can include offensive remarks about an employee’s age. When harassment is either frequent or severe, it may create a hostile work environment. The person harassing the older employee does not have to be their supervisor.