Avoiding Age Discrimination Lawsuits

An attitude adjustment

Because the workforce is “aging” it is important for employers to begin to implement programs that will eliminate potential “age discrimination.” Sizeable judgements have been awarded against employers who “unfairly” discriminate against older employees. Indeed, the average jury award for an age discrimination case is almost double the average award for a sex discrimination case.

For example, Lennox Industries Inc. recently took the brunt of a settlement that requires them to pay more than $4.1 million to 11 former sales managers it dismissed in 1992 and 1993. In laying off one third of its district sales managers, Lennox failed, (either by mistake or by design) to take into account the fact that all of the dismissed managers were over the age of 40. The judgement includes a $2 million bill for attorneys’ fees. Clearly, it is worth your time to take steps to avoid such a lawsuit.

One way to eliminate age bias, according to Sheldon Steinhauser, sociology professor at Denver’s Metropolitan State College, is for employers to implement “preventative training” policies. Executives and managers need to re-think attitudes about older adults. This includes changing company policies, training programs or evaluations to eliminate discriminatory actions or language. We offer training courses that will help assure you don’t make any inadvertent mistakes. Please request a schedule of training from one of our human resource specialists.

Disparate treatment: This refers to treatment of employees that favors younger workers over older ones. Disparate impact: This form of discrimination occurs when a policy that is intended to be neutral, affects women, minorities or older employees disproportionately.”