AARP attorneys are working along side a Washington DC law firm to help 150 writers who have filed claims of age discrimination against a list of major entertainment industry employers. An appeals court in California helped move the case forward when it granted claimants access to statistical information that they hope will substantiate a pattern of discrimination against writers who are 40 or older.
Age Discrimination in Employment Laws protect individuals over 40. In a faltering economy candidates and employees may be more likely to file claims as job searches take longer and companies restructure to save money. The EEOC reported a big jump in age discrimination claims from 2006 to 2007. In 2006 and also 2005 less than 16,600 claims were filed. Total age discrimination claims rose to 19,103 in 2007. This translated into 66.8 million dollars in settlements.
Age should not be a factor when making employment decisions. That’s pretty easy to understand. Less obvious is the potential for negative comments or even inferences about age that can creep into conversations and emails.
Beware of conversations or written comments about employees “slowing down” or “losing the spring in their step.” References to the increased appearance of grey hair or Botox smiles should also be avoided. These are exactly the kinds of statements that are used to support claims of age discrimination. Remember an employee may be taking notes.
Referring to yourself or a co-worker as the old man may seem cute but you won’t chuckle when you read it quoted to support an EEOC complaint about age discrimination.