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11.04.2015

Employers should be proactive to avoid age discrimination claims

Age discrimination claims can be very expensive for Indiana employers. Today, the combination of an aging population and a slow economic recovery makes the possibility of a company facing such a claim very real. There are steps employers can take, however, to reduce the likelihood of a former employee bringing a successful claim of employment discrimination based on age.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA protects both employees and job applicants over the age of 40. It applies to all employers that have 20 or more employees. It prohibits discrimination against older workers in any term or condition of employment. This includes hiring, termination, layoffs, promotions, job assignments, training and benefits.

The ADEA generally prohibits stating any age preference in job advertisements or notices. When interviewing candidates, an employer should be careful not to ask about a candidate’s age or date of birth. While the ADEA does not expressly prohibit such inquiries, they will be closely scrutinized if an unsuccessful applicant brings a claim. If the employer needs age information for a legitimate, non-discriminatory purpose, they can always ask for it after the person is hired.

One of the most effective ways to prevent age discrimination claims is to make sure all managers and human resources personnel receive training on what constitutes age discrimination under the ADEA, and what is and is not permitted in making employment decisions. Also, getting the right information as to whether any current policies or practices need to be changed in order to comply with the law can be beneficial.

Source: eeoc.gov, “Age Discrimination,” accessed Nov. 2, 2015