The Integrity News
Vol. XIV No. 7
September 22, 2005
A number of articles have appeared recently on the
topic of age discrimination. On their website, the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
offers "a primer on age discrimination, an explanation
of the law, statistics, and instructions for responding
to claims against your company." This recent article
from Inc. Magazine is particularly clear on this topic.
"This past March, the Supreme Court made it a lot
easier for workers ( in companies with 20 or more
employees ) to file age discrimination claims in Federal
court. Before the ruling, in order to bring a claim to
court, plaintiffs had to show that a company's policies
were deliberately biased."
"But now the threshold is much lower. If your company
has a policy or practice that adversely affects a
disproportionate number of workers age 40 and older --
even if it's not intentional -- you're making yourself
vulnerable to accusations of age discrimination."
"Last year, more than 8,000 age discrimination lawsuits
were filed against companies with fewer than 500
employees according to the EEOC. That number could
surge in the next decade, as the baby boom generation
-- about half of the U.S. work force -- gets older."
"To safeguard your business from an age discrimination
claim, you'll have to do a lot more than slap a policy in
the back of your employee manual and hold an annual
training seminar. Business owners and managers must
now analyze how all of their policies and practices --
both formal and informal -- affect older workers."
You need to be sure that any "policy or practice related
to hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, compensation,
benefits, job assignments, or training" does not effect
a disproportionate number of employees who are 40 or older.
For instance, if a disgruntled employee triggers an
EEOC investigation, you don't want to have age-related
notes in your HR records describing various employees
as "up-and-coming" or "long in the tooth".
Some companies are even
auditing their HR database once a month for trigger words,
increasing severance packages in exchange for the employee
signing a pledge not to sue the employer for age discrimination
"(The pledges are legally binding, but do not prevent the EEOC
from suing on behalf of employees.)", or
purchasing Employment Practice Liability Insurance to pay
future legal and settlement costs.
However, there is some good news. While the new ruling
makes "it easier to get a claim into court; it doesn't make
it easier for employees to win a case once it's been
brought. If there's a legitimate business reason behind
a policy that leads to a claim, you could still prevail in
While we are not attorneys and do not offer legal advice, you can
feel free to call us at
The Integrity Center, Inc.
at (972) 484-6140 to
discuss age discrimination issues. Helping you with
your Risk Management and HR Automation is what we do.