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How to avoid age discrimination claims at your business

Older workers are in businesses all across the country as many Baby Boomers are not only still in the workforce but are working past the time most people usually retire. The Bureau of Labor statistics has reported that by the year 2022, 25 percent of the workforce will be made up by workers who are 55 or older.

With a workforce dominated by so many older workers, it is natural that many of them are feeling their age is causing them to be discriminated against. One study backs up this sentiment, saying that with advancing age, the better chance someone will encounter discrimination at work.

Can ageism affect your company?

In the last 15 years, over 20 percent of all the cases that were reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved age discrimination. Cases that involve age discrimination have seen some of the highest payouts from companies for discrimination, in 2013 there was over $93 million paid out.

Does your business have strategies and practices in place to ensure that workers are not judged based on their age? If not, here are some steps you should begin to take to reduce the possibility of an employee accusing your company of age discrimination.

Diversity and discrimination training

Training sessions with company supervisors and managers can provide information on the importance of these issues and provide the benefits of age diversity. A training session can also point out the repercussions the company may have to endure due to discrimination.

Have policies about age discrimination and enforce them

It is one thing to tell your employees not to discriminate because of someone’s age but having policies that are clearly defined is another. The policy should be communicated to all employees and have it known that unfair treatment based on age will not be tolerated. Let supervisors and managers know that disciplinary actions can result from violating the policy.

Start before there is even an interview

When your company is hiring, throwing the net out to find a new employee should be done by covering everyone and not just one age segment. Advertisements should be placed where it can be read by both young and old and you should not use language in the ad that refers to being “young” or a “new grad.” At the interview, do not ask age-related questions and do not count out an applicant because you think they may retire soon.

Don’t layoff based on age

If your company needs to reduce the workforce, watch out for making decision based on age. Sometimes older workers due to their seniority have the highest salaries. Targeting these workers can violate your own policy on age discrimination.

With the number of older workers still dominating the workforce, it is as important as ever to make sure you stay vigilant about how you work with and hire older workers. Discriminating against someone based on their age may not only cause low morale within the company but can also bring you legal trouble.

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