Want the secret to spotting a potential age discrimination claim a mile away?
I’ve got it for you after the jump.
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I’m going to make this real easy for you.
DON’T CALL ANY EMPLOYEE OLD….EVER!
And, just so we’re clear, “old mother******” is no good either. Similarly, questions about retirement and proclamations that “younger people are the future” usually lead to an embarrassing call to your employment practices liability insurance carrier.
The latest reminder comes from a Tennessee (opinion here), where a plaintiff alleged that his boss called him “sleepy” and “old, with old ideas and past his proper life cycle; that she asked him what he was doing there so long; that she said, ‘I can’t believe you’ve been here so long;’ and that she told him the owners wanted him out.”
The court underscored that “if a jury believes the testimony of Plaintiff, it reasonably could find direct evidence of discrimination, which precludes summary judgment.” (my emphasis). It didn’t help matters that the statements were attributed to the plaintiff’s boss.
Bottom line: age is basically verboten in the workplace, especially if you have the ability to hire/fire employees. So, make sure your managers understand this as well.
P.S. – A reader emailed me yesterday asking why I didn’t discuss Ray Rice on the blog. Well, I have three reasons: First, what could be more controversial and newsworthy than fitness-for-duty medical releases? (sigh)… Second, I already hit my weekly cap of NFL-related posts on Tuesday when I discussed the stupidity of posting a customer’s restaurant receipt on Facebook. Third, Jon Hyman hit the mark on the workplace implications of Ray Rice with his post on Wednesday.