In 2017, a former Indiana teacher received a $30,000 settlement after he filed a complaint under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA). Lawsuits like this are becoming more common, as the median age of the workforce is now 41.9 years old as of 2016 and is expected to continue to increase.
Rules for Protecting Employees From Age Discrimination
- An employee can never be fired due to age.
- All employment ads or recruitment materials may never specify a preferred age.
- No age limits can be made for training programs.
- Employers are forbidden to retaliate against employees who file age discrimination suits.
- No policies can be made that result in penalizing older workers for younger employees.
- Employees cannot be given reduced benefits because of age. (This doesn’t apply to benefits that naturally due to age, such as life insurance premiums.)
Steps to Protecting Your Educational Institution
- Update your employee handbook. Include a statement in your employee handbook that clearly outlines that discrimination based on age and other factors such as race and sex is neither condoned nor acceptable at your school. Ensure that employees read and sign the handbook to indicate they understand their rights and the rights of others regarding discrimination.
- Keep in mind that because of the increasing use of technology, ways to discriminate increase daily, so make sure that the handbook is a fluid document that is updated on a regular basis and reviewed by employees.
- Display an Equal Opportunity poster. Post in a prominent location where all employees can see the United States Department of Labor “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” poster. This notice provides information regarding anti-discrimination law and employee rights, as well as procedures for filing complaints.
- Provide company-wide anti-discrimination training. Require all employees to attend training that shares the rules regarding discrimination based on age and other factors, and gives employees clear instructions for what they should do if they suspect discrimination.
- Hold specialized management training. Those in leadership roles, such as faculty chairs and administration, require additional more extensive training on the subject of discrimination. They should be trained to be on the lookout for overt and subtle signs of trouble among their staffs and advised as to the protocol for dealing with and mitigating potential problems.