The Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people over the age of forty from discrimination when applying for employment or in the workplace. Specifically the ADEA is focused on age discrimination of individuals over forty in regards to hiring, promotions, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment (Department of Labor, 2016). The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Within the workplace, two of the area’s the ADEA presents educational challenges for leaders are; through educating hiring teams and employee relations. Through the hiring interview process and daily workplace interactions, employees can unintentionally find themselves discriminating against people protected by the ADEA.
Employee awareness as relates to age discrimination
Within the workplace, leadership recruits employees to participate on hiring teams in order to conduct thorough interviews of potential candidates. In my organization, leaders create hiring teams with diverse experience in order to ensure all aspects technical and behavioral competencies can be assessed through the course of the interview. Hiring teams often include a mix of technical experts, management, human resources and customers, that ultimately will receive support from the hired candidate. Over the last five years, as a leader with multiple groups requiring differing skill sets, I have witnessed employees struggle with age discrimination while evaluating candidates for positions. For example, certain positions are physically demanding or require long hours, I have witnessed hiring team members question whether older candidates will be able to ‘keep up’ with the group.
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...For example, “evenly applied layoffs or companies can offer an early retirement incentive for employees to retire, if accepted the employee normally has to sign a ADEA waiver as to not bring suit against the company later” (Lau, T., Johnson, L., 2014 p. 268). Today, most careers within the United States are employment-at-will, meaning either party can terminate employment with or without cause, with some exceptions. This allows for great flexibility for employees and employers to meet the needs of the business and our personal lives. As with many benefits we have, we also must be responsible stuarts of society and ensure checks and balances are in place for a fair and reputable working environment. Reducing the occurrence of age discrimination is one way we can improve work environments and retain expertise in the workplace to train the less experienced team members.
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