Age Discrimination in the Workplace: What Employers Should Know

What policies should you have in place to avoid age discrimination?

Age discrimination in the workplace occurs more frequently than many people realize.

What is age discrimination in the workplace?

According to the EEOC, age discrimination occurs when an employer, based on age, treats an employee or job applicant less favorably than they treat other employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is the federal law protecting workers who are age 40 or older against age discrimination.

What types of work situations does the ADEA apply to?

The ADEA covers any facet of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Job assignments
  • Promotion
  • Layoffs
  • Firing

What is age discrimination harassment?

As an employer, you cannot harass an employee based on their age. Examples of harassment would include:

  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about the worker’s age
  • Teasing or comments that become frequent or severe, resulting in a hostile work environment
  • Harassment that results in adverse employment decisions, such as demotion or firing

Harassment can come from a co-worker, supervisor or even a client or customer.

What policies could help employers protect themselves against claims of age discrimination?

Sometimes employers decide to reduce their workforce. They may consider terminating older workers, who are eligible for retirement or are close to being eligible. In many instances, due to longevity with the company, these are the most highly paid employees.

Offering severance packages are one way to lessen the risk of age discrimination claims. Employers incorporate a release of claims into the package. The consideration an employer offers must go beyond already agreed upon pensions or accrued vacation or sick leave payments.

As an employer, do you need legal assistance with age discrimination policies?

If you have questions or concerns about age discrimination claims occurring in the workplace, you should consult with an experienced employment law defense attorney. Whenever possible, it is wise to do so before legal issues arise. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment with Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C.