“In China, They Put Women Out To Pasture at Your Age”

I probably don’t need to tell readers about my penchant for collecting cases in which older employees are the object of ageist comments in the workplace.

That is, all the different names, expressions, and epithets to which such employees are referred as a proxy for “old.”

“For example, you do not call an employee ‘old’ or ‘ancient’ (I once had a case where the boss referred to another employee of the same age as the one he fired as “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…. old people’ should also be avoided (although the latter remark can hardly be considered particularly well “coded”).”   The same with ‘looks old,’ ‘sounds old on the telephone,’ and is ‘like a bag of bones.’”

These comments, of course, will go a long way to finding an employer liable for violating the federal Age Discrimination In Employment Act (“ADEA”), and other similar state and local laws.

Here’s a new one: a former executive assistant at Temple University was told the day before her 57th birthday by her supervisor, that “in China, they put women out to pasture at your age.”

Nice touch!  And a good addition to our collection.

The employee sued and was just awarded $850,000 by a federal jury: $350,000 in damages for pain, suffering, and inconvenience; $250,000 in back pay; and $250,000 punitive damages.

That’s some large award.


Don’t call or refer to older employees using ageist terms.  In fact, don’t discriminate against older employees. Period.

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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]