Americans Working Longer = More Age Discrimination Cases

A recent article from the New York Post highlights the growing statistical evidence suggesting that Americans are working until they are older. As the article explains, “Eighty is the New Sixty.” With baby boomers living longer than any prior generation, they are also working longer. The recession also wiped out many nest eggs that workers were counting on to finance their retirement years. These developments have culminated in a “perfect storm” for a graying of the workforce.

According to the article, by 2020 older workers will be the fastest growing segment of the workforce. Workers over 55 years old will constitute a quarter of the workforce. So what does that mean for employers?

First, it might be a good thing. Many industries have been worried about the brain drain from older workers retiring. That might be delayed. Also, older workers tend to be more loyal and reliable. These are all desired qualities. For workers who slow down or become ineffective, however, employment decisions are fraught with legal risk. A recent UBS Wealth study found that Americans don’t see themselves as “old” until the age of 80. A generation ago, that number was 60. For an employee who does not perceive themselves as old, being told they are too old to perform their job effectively may not go over well. The takeaway from this article is that workers are staying in their jobs longer and may not be as willing to retire quietly once they are no longer able to physically or mentally perform their duties nike air yeezy. It is increasingly important that adverse actions against workers over 40 be scrutinized to make sure that age is not a factor, either directly or indirectly. If it is unavoidable, ensure that you have plenty of documentation of performance deficiencies. Firing a thirty year employee for one mistake won’t be viewed favorably. Similarly, if an employee has physical problems performing a job, consider sending the employee to a doctor for a fitness for duty exam. Managers are not doctors and it is not advisable to conclude that an employee cannot physically perform a job without a qualified opinion on the subject.

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Posted in Discrimination, Labor & Employment, Wage and Hour

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HR Headaches is a blog for Human Resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel to get the latest news, analysis and tips in the area of labor and employment law. Every day there are new court decisions, agency interpretations, and regulations which affect the workplace, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many employers to keep current. HR Headaches is dedicated to providing information in a practical, no-nonsense manner to help employers avoid legal disputes and keep policies up to date.
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