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5 ways to avoid an age discrimination lawsuit

As a savvy businessperson, you want your business to make as much money as possible. As a good boss, though, you want everyone in your organization to feel both welcome and productive. While older employees often have the sort of life experience that makes organizations profitable, they often feel out of place at the jobsite. 

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits certain U.S. employers from discriminating against applicants or employees because of their age. That is, you may not use a person’s age as a reason to deny employment, refuse a raise or take other employment actions. Complying with the ADEA does not have to be difficult. Here are five ways to avoid an age discrimination lawsuit.

1. Recognize the issue 

Perhaps the best way to stay out of trouble is to realize that age discrimination exists. Employees and applicants experience age discrimination in a variety of ways. By recognizing the issue, you can better plan for keeping it out of your workplace. 

2. Write an age discrimination policy into your handbook 

To prevent age discrimination in your organization, you must establish a culture of nondiscrimination. By writing an age discrimination policy into your handbook, you tell your managers and employees that you will not tolerate age discrimination. Of course, policies only work if your employees know about them. Therefore, you may need to conduct training to promote a fair working environment. 

3. Rely on worker ability when making employment decisions 

You want the best workers to do any job. When you rely on an employee’s abilities instead of his or her age when making employment decisions, you usually do not have to worry about an age discrimination claim. 

4. Keep comprehensive records 

You may have a general idea of the composition of your workforce. Still, you can likely avoid an age discrimination charge by carefully monitoring your staff. Rather than assuming you are employing workers from many age groups, keep comprehensive employment records. 

5. Examine your jobsite 

Finally, you do not want someone alleging that worksite conditions prevent older workers from doing their jobs. As such, you may choose to periodically examine your worksite for obstacles that may make working difficult for older employees. If you see any, consider reworking your processes to eliminate them. 

It is possible that only younger workers can do certain jobs at your company. You should not, however, assume that you cannot hire, promote or transfer older workers. With a bit of diligence, you can likely decrease your chances of facing an age discrimination lawsuit.

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