Age Discrimination: A Quiet Path to Claims Against the Employer

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 protects employees and applicants who are age 40 or older. A senior living community in Columbus, GA has been ordered to pay $78,000 as part of a lawsuit brought against the business by the EEOC. The EEOC got involved when a 78-year-old, longtime employee was terminated when the general manager told her he had “lost confidence in her ability to work” and replaced her with much younger employees. One month prior to her termination, the employee had received an “employee of the year” award, and the employer had raised no previous performance claims. 

After a brief hospitalization, the general manager badgered the employee with reasons why she should leave her job, such as spending more time with family or traveling, or not really needing to work. He asked how long she planned to keep her job. The employee remained firm that she wished to continue working. Although there had been no previous complaints or counseling, the general manager gave the excuse that he was no longer confident that she could do her job and terminated her employment. 

The court approved the settlement to the employee, as well as a requirement that the employer revise its Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) policies, post a note informing employees of the settlement, and provide ADEA and ADA training to all employees. The company also agreed to stay in touch with the EEOC and provide detailed accounts of any ADEA or ADA complaints. 

Coercing employees over 40 into retirement or terminating them with no signs nor record of a performance deficiency is a red flag. Replacing them with younger workers should sound a siren. Wanting a fresh face or a member of Gen Z in place of an employee over 40 who has been named employee of the year is going to get you a big payout to your employee and get you named and shamed by the EEOC.  

Avoid unnecessary payouts and stay compliant on all employee issues as a subscriber with myHRcounsel. We are the reliable resource for all state and federal employment laws. Contact us at

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