Dealing with a lawsuit from an employee claiming age discrimination can be costly and damaging to a company's reputation. It's important for companies to avoid mistakes so that they comply with age discrimination laws. The following are six mistakes business owners and managers need to avoid to protect themselves:
Mentioning age preferences on a job application or during an interview
You should always avoid putting across the impression that age is a factor in your hiring decisions. This means that you shouldn't even bring it up on an application or while conducting a job interview.
It's best to not even ask for the employee's date of birth. If you need to make sure that the applicant is a certain age to meet state law requirements, make sure you put on the application the state law requirement you're meeting where you ask for the applicant's age.
Being unfamiliar with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The key piece of legislation to understand to avoid age discrimination issues is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This is an act that was passed in 1975. This act provides protection to those who are applying for a job who are 40 years of age or older.
You should familiarize yourself with the requirements of this act to avoid any possible violations.
Failing to take a critical look at hiring practices in relation to age issues
Once you've familiarized yourself with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you should revisit your hiring policies.
Look critically at your practices to find any possible scenarios where your company would be likely to be accused of discrimination based on age. Then, revise your policies and notify all of your affected staff on the changes to stay compliant going forward.
Trying to pressure older employees to retire
Some business owners and managers might assume that age discrimination is mostly a hiring issue. However, you can also be accused of age discrimination by employees who have been with your company for a long time.
Issues with long time employees are especially likely to come up when it comes to retirement. Remember that you should never pressure an employee to retire because of age. Generally speaking, companies are not allowed to institute mandatory retirement ages and must allow their employees to retire voluntarily when they choose.
Making assumptions about employees based on age
Companies sometimes get in trouble with age discrimination because they allow management and human resources staff to make assumptions about whether a particular employee will be able to handle a task or want to take on a task.
It's important to avoid assuming that an employee won't want to learn something new or take on an opportunity because they are too old.
Failing to train managers and supervisors to avoid comments or jokes involving employee ages
Joking about an employee's age at a company should be considered just as unacceptable as joking about an employee's race or sexuality. Managers and supervisors need to be trained to avoid age-related jokes that could be taken the wrong way by employees.
In addition to avoiding these mistakes, companies can hire an age discrimination law attorney to help them avoid other issues.