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How can you avoid inadvertent age discrimination?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | BUSINESS & COMMERCIAL LAW - Employment Litigation

However well-intentioned you are as a business owner, you could inadvertently find yourself accused of things you had no idea you had committed. One common one is age discrimination.

Federal law considers age discrimination can happen to anyone over the age of 40 and the scope of what it includes is far broader than you might think. While you cannot use age as a factor when deciding who to hire, promote or fire, there is far more to it than that

Even someone that is not an employee can claim it

You must be incredibly careful with your language when promoting a vacancy. Phrases such as, “would suit a recent college graduate” or, “to join a young and vibrant team” can leave older people feeling you are excluding them.

Friendly banter could also cause you problems

Banter is a common theme in many workplaces, yet you need to keep an eye on it, as not everyone may be happy about comments that refer to them, particularly if the jokes make them feel like they’re being judged for being older.

While a one-off comment cannot lead to an age discrimination case, a pattern of them can. So, employees constantly asking Betty the cook what it was like cooking for the troops back in World War One, or constantly telling Jack he needs to take it easy at his age could land your business in trouble. 

Getting legal help to create and implement proactive anti-discrimination policies is a good start and can avoid you needing to take help because a claim arises.