What if you replace an older worker with another older worker?

by on March 14, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Suppose a manager tells you that a certain 60-year-old employee isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. The manager wants to get rid of her. As a smart HR person, you’re immediately concerned to avoid any appearance of age discrimination, that is, showing bias against an employee who is over 40.

But when the manager tells you who he’s thinking of as a replacement, you relax. The proposed replacement is herself 52 years old, and you don’t think it can be age discrimination if you replace one 40-plus person with another. So you approve the personnel move.

Imagine your surprise when the fired employee sues for age discrimination after all, and her lawyer points out that you CAN discriminate against an older employee by replacing her with another older employee – if there’s a significant difference in their ages, which the judge says is indeed the case here.

This age discrimination trap is just one of several that even good organizations can find themselves falling into, if they don’t know the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) backwards and forwards.

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