Employment Law Paper
Age discrimination is an employment problem that is becoming more evident as economic conditions weaken. Employers who think they can eliminate older workers from their workforce and save costs of retirement programs, and higher salaries have been enlightened otherwise by the growing number of lawsuits that have been won over age discrimination. In 1994, Lockheed Martin agreed to a 13 million dollar settlement and to rehire about 246 employees who claimed age discrimination. In 1996, a Boston jury awarded $3.
5 million to a former Airborne Express executive who was fired, despite documented outstanding performance. A 1998 survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management and the AARP found that one in five companies surveyed had been hit with age discrimination claims between 1993 and 1998. Between 1988 and 1995, individuals claiming age discrimination were awarded an average of $219, 000 each according to Jury Verdict Research. (Internet article Age Discrimination: Overview of the Law). This paper will examine the Age Discrimination Employment Act, as well as explore a selection of age discrimination cases and provide recommendations for a potential employer on how to avoid an age discrimination suit. Try custom essay writing services at WriteMyPapers.
org! Congress instated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967 to help encourage Employment of those over 40 years of age based on their ability rather than their age. The acts statutory basis is as follows: Statutory basis: Age discrimination in Employment act: Sec. 4 (a) It shall be unlawful for an employer - (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privilege of employment, because of such individual's age. (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's age; or (3) to reduce the wage rate of any employee in order to comply with this chapter. Essentially the ADEA prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age; applies to individuals who are at least 40 years old. Individuals who are not yet 40 years old are not protected by the act and may be discriminated against on the basis of age.
(Alexander and Hartman 413). An amendment to the ADEA was passed in 1986 prohibiting mandatory retirement on the basis of age with some exceptions such as those pertaining to selected occupations, where age is a BFOQ, such as police personnel, and firefighters. There have been numerous cases that have been brought before the courts that document age discrimination. Depending on the situation, not all cases of age discrimination are won by the Plaintiff and courts must consider safety and reasonable necessity while trying to determine the validity of each suit. However, In Western Air Lines, Inc. v.
Criswell 472 U. S. 400 (1985), the airline's mandatory retirement age requirement for flight engineers at the age of 60 was challenged. Even though the pilots may be in perfect health, the airline argued that safety for personnel and passengers drove the necessity for an age cap for the position of flight engineer and that the age limitation was a BFOQ. The court determined that mandatory retirement based solely upon age is arbitrary and that chronological age alone is a poor indicator of a person's ability to perform a job. The ADEA provides protection for older workers by deterring employers from stereotyping the older workers ability to keep up with a fast paced work environment, or the ever-changing workplace.
In the case of Parrish v. Immanuel Medical Center 92 F. 3 d 727 (8 th Cir. 1996) the plaintiff sued her employer and received damages of $42, 436. 30 when she was not allowed to return to her normal job as a registrar after suffering a short illness.
Parrish's employer alleged that Parrish was slow and incapable of adjusting to a new computer system although it was evident that she along with several younger employees in her department were all experiencing a learning curve with the employers new computer systems and Parrish was the only one who was taken out of her position. Because of the sufficient evidence that was provided, the court ruled that the employer was in violation of the ADEA and had constructively discharged the employee because of her age (Alexander and Hartman 419). It is clear from the examples noted above that age discrimination cases, if won by the plaintiff, can become very costly to the employer. As an employer, protection from age discrimination suits through tightening up policies and procedures. Employers should review and, if necessary, revise hiring policies, training programs, and evaluation processes to minimize any discriminatory implications. Provide preventative training on age discrimination law should be provided to supervisors as well as ensure that their internal complaint procedure includes immediate and thorough investigations of complaints.
(Alexander and Hartman 442). There will always be diversity of age in the workplace and a large number of workers that are considered to be part of the protected class 40 to 65 years of age under the ADEA. An employer who is aware of the ever increasing number of age discrimination suits and the financial impact that is attached to them will be sure to make modifications to their policies and procedures that will help minimize the risk of potential age discrimination suits. Works Cited Employment Law for Business Third Edition; by Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander and Laura P.
Hartman. Published by Irwin/McGraw-Hill 2001. Internet aritcle: Age Discrimination: An Overview of the Law; web.