How not to get sued for age discrimination

by on December 15, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Watch out for age discrimination traps when advertising positions

It’s easier to fall into the trap than many HR managers think. Say you’ve got a job opening and you know who you want to hire: Someone who’s energetic and willing to work long hours.

That means a young, college-age student would fit the bill. So you advertise at colleges only. But that means you’re discriminating against older workers, those who are unlikely to look for a job in a college newspaper or Web site.

Source: Jodi Plavner, Audio Conference Hiring Without Fear, 8/3/06.

Consistency rules

The need for consistency in the hiring process was pointed up by a recent case in Minnesota. A 51-year-old woman who sought a full-time job and was hired only part-time alleged that she was discriminated against because of her age and gender.

A court ruled for her in the age and gender discrimination lawsuit. It said the employer used a different hiring process with different applicants, some of them male, and had “fluid standards” for evaluating applications.

Cite: Peterson v. Scott County.

Award hints at need for manager training

When a 56-year-old shop foreman told his boss he planned to work until age 65, the boss responded, “We’ll see about that.” Over the next few months the boss made several comments suggesting younger managers are more effective than older ones.

After the foreman was fired and replaced by a 33-year-old he himself had trained, he filed an age discrimination lawsuit.

In court, when the employer came up with no legitimate business reason for dismissing the foreman, a jury awarded him $397,948.

Cite: Kuehnl v. Warfield-Rohr.

Close call over age-biased comments

You’ve heard of the one that got away? Consider instead the one they got away with. When a 54-year-old sales manager was demoted, he asked his supervisor why his salary was cut. The supervisor, unwisely, responded that he “wasn’t going to listen to some old f***er” question his decisions. He said the company could hire “two younger people, more aggressive people for what we are paying you.”

No big shock, the employee later sued for age discrimination after he was laid off. But the employer got lucky. The court said because the supervisor wasn’t the one who decided to terminate the employee, age bias couldn’t be proven in the layoff.

A close call you don’t want supervisors emulating.

Cite: Beckman v. KGP Telecommunications.

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