Age Discrimination: What Every Supervisor Needs to Know

Access this free video now and learn how to avoid the most common managerial mistakes that too often lead to age discrimination lawsuits. Discover

  • The intent behind federal age discrimination law
  • The four main ways managers violate the age discrimination law
  • A question that will help you avoid violating the ADEA which protects all workers over 40

Why are we giving you all of this for free? Because it’s the best way we know to introduce you to a new approach to employment law compliance training.

Here’s how it works: Request your age discrimination video now and we’ll email you a user name and password that gives you instant access to the Employment Law Compliance & Human Resources Rapid Learning Centers. There you’ll find your free age discrimination video and a collection of other training resources for managers, supervisors and HR professionals. You’ll have unlimited trial access to this powerful library of e-learning modules, reports and fast-read articles.

More information for those who love the details …

Age Discrimination: What the law requires

The federal law that prohibits age discrimination in employment is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA. Most states also have state laws prohibiting age discrimination. The ADEA requires employers to:

  • treat employees and job applicants 40 years of age and older no less favorably than the under-40s, and
  • give equal treatment to all employees age 40 and older. For example, if one employee is 41 and another is 71, you cannot make employment-related decisions based on their age.

How managers unknowingly commit acts of age discrimination

Managers tend to violate the age discrimination law in one of four different ways.

Age Discrimination Mishap 1: Assuming an older worker can no longer do the job. Sure, an older worker’s physical condition MIGHT prevent him or her from doing certain jobs. But you must make that call based on an assessment of the worker’s ACTUAL condition and abilities, and you are prohibited by law from making that call based on stereotypes about older workers in general.

Age Discrimination Mishap 2: Making comments that imply bias. Here are a few examples of the kind of remarks supervisors should avoid:

  • We need an influx of fresh blood
  • Some folks have been around here too long
  • I like young, high-energy people
  • You’ve slowed down over the years

When discussing performance, managers and supervisors should also avoid “code words” for age, such as “vibrant,” “enthusiastic,” “energetic,” and so forth. It’s best to focus on actual results compared to specific job performance requirements.

Age discrimination Mishap 3: Replacing older workers with younger ones. Let’s be clear: It’s not illegal to replace an older worker with a younger worker if there are legitimate job-related reasons for doing so. But the age discrepancy will raise a red flag in court. So if you do replace an older worker, be prepared to justify your action by showing strong business reasons other than age.

Whenever an over-40 worker brings an age discrimination lawsuit for wrongful termination or demotion, the courts look hard at the issue of who – if anybody – replaced the person.

If the replacement is under 40, you’ll need to have substantial documentation showing a nondiscriminatory reason for what you did.

Age Discrimination Mishap 4: Disciplining older workers more harshly than younger ones. Even though an older worker might irritate you with his attitude, you can’t punish him for an infraction more severely than you would if a younger employee did the same thing.

The number of age discrimination lawsuits filed annually is proof that it’s all too easy to slip into the age bias trap without meaning to.

Access this free video now and get the critical information you need to dodge these pitfalls when dealing with over-40 employees.

A Simple Question to Prevent Age Discrimination Claims

To avoid facing an age discrimination lawsuit, ask yourself this question before taking personnel action involving an over-40 worker:

Do I have a legitimate business reason – other than age – for what I’m doing?

That’s the question the courts will ask. And if there’s any doubt in your mind that you could defend your decision on the witness stand, it’s time to stop and reassess – and also check with HR.

Access the free video “Age Discrimination: What Every Manager Needs to Know” as part of a free trial to the Employment Law Compliance & Human Resources Rapid Learning Centers.


Steve Meyer
Stephen Meyer
CEO, Rapid Learning Institute


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