Employer Which Wanted "Young Blood" Settles Case With Fired Older Employee

There’s not much to add to the title of this post – it pretty much says it all.  Except that, according to the EEOC, the company owner also claimed that he wanted “younger and peppier” employees when he fired a 52 year old employee.

Old Man, Lake, Paddle, Surf, Water

This settlement is noteworthy to me because I collect language used by employers to justify treating older people adversely and which is alleged or determined to be ageist – and direct evidence of age-based animus.

Last October 3rd I mentioned that “you do not call an employee ‘old’ or ‘ancient,’ since that is direct evidence of age discrimination.  You stay away from calling an employee ‘old school,’ or ‘set in his ways,’ or ‘not a proper fit for the “new environment,’ or ‘lacking in energy.’  And, of yes, ‘Hang up your Superman cape’ and ‘get it together you f….ing old people should also be avoided.

Also on my list were comments such as an employee “looks old,” “sounds old on the telephone,” or is like a bag of bones. Or that there are too many “gray hairs,” or “too many old, fat, ugly and gray-haired employees.”  Or that “they get tired easily.”

An EEOC attorney said of this new settlement that “Employers should make employment decisions based on a person’s ability to do the job, and not on myths and stereotypes.”

Takeaway:   As I said in my October post, “Learn from these real life cases of ageist comments and stay away from their use, or any words or comments that may be understood as being proxies for ‘old.’  And examine yourself: do you possess prejudices and biases when hiring, firing or otherwise dealing with older workers?”



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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]