Sometimes an action occurs that makes you wonder what the thinking was when a decision was made.
Case in point
A Colorado hospital forced 29 employees to resign for performance deficiencies. I can picture someone saying “You can resign or we will fire you.” Offering that option is not that unusual, but what made this stand out was that all 29 employees were over the age of forty and had been employed for over 10 years. Naturally, that caught the attention of the EEOC, who, upon investigation, determined that younger employees had similar performance problems but were not forced to resign. Oops!
ADEA’s 50th anniversary
In the year of the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) engaging in age discrimination is sure to get you noticed, especially when done on the scale of this case. The poor thinking of management, or HR, or both cost this hospital $400,000. Management is accused of making ageist statements such as “They preferred younger nurses because they could dance circles around older nurses.”
In addition to the monetary fine, the hospital has a consent decree settling the suit requires the hospital “…to conduct annual anti-discrimination training for its employees, managers, supervisors and human resources employees. [the hospital] will also revise and distribute its anti-discrimination policy, and report to EEOC any complaints of age discrimination. The court approved the settlement and will retain jurisdiction for purposes of compliance for three years” according to the EEOC press release.
Just don’t do it
With Baby Boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day and Gen Xers now in their 40’s and 50’s there is ample opportunity to do something to someone who can sue for age discrimination. When taking action against an employee who is over the age of 40 you need to ensure you are doing so on the basis of their performance, not their age. If you would not take that action against someone who is 25, then don’t take it against someone who is 50. It is just wrong and can be an expensive action.