“You have done nothing wrong. I am just following orders in building a new, younger team for the CEO.”


If you’re 67 years old, you work in human resources, and you happen to hear those words from the company’s U.S. president, it may be time to dust off the old resume.

Or contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The HR Manager for a Swiss-based national manufacturer did the latter.

And in 2022, the EEOC sued on her behalf. According to this press release, the EEOC alleged that the company hired a new president in 2019, who received direction company HQ in Switzerland to “eliminate all older management and sales employees and replace them with a new, younger workforce.”

The press release adds that the HR Manager caught wind of the company “repeatedly turning down qualified older employees in favor of less-qualified, younger employees and forcing out all older upper-management employees.” 

Was this coincidence? Probably not.

According to the complaint, Defendant’s new U.S. President began repeatedly asking her questions like: “Why is the workforce so old?” and “What age is mandatory retirement [in the U.S.]?”

The HR Manager questioned these personnel moves to management. Then, according to the EEOC, on or about July 14, 2020, the U.S. President fired her and told her, “You have done nothing wrong. I am just following orders in building a new, younger team for the CEO.”

Sounds like age bias and retaliation to me.

The EEOC called it “a textbook example of age discrimination in violation of the ADEA.”

The lawsuit must have finally resonated with the company too, which settled with the EEOC last month. The EEOC announced that the company would pay $460,000 to resolve the lawsuit. It must also train all its U.S. employees and managers on the ADEA, distribute its ADEA policies to all employees, post a notice about federal anti-discrimination laws and employee rights in the workplace, and allow the EEOC to monitor how it handles future ADEA discrimination complaints.

This lawsuit/settlement is also a good reminder that the EEOC believes that “employment decisions must be made based on employee qualifications rather than on stereotypes about an employee based on their age.”

***checks notes***

Yes, that is accurate. Good advice there. Mess around and find out.

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