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Replacing worker with someone slightly younger isn’t age bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers age 40 or older from discrimination based on age.

To win an ADEA lawsuit, an employee has to show that a younger employee replaced her. However, that younger employee must be at least six years younger unless there is direct evidence of age discrimination.

Recent case: Melissa Smith-Deaton was fired from her job at an insurance company after she was caught accessing her daughter-in-law’s insurance policy in the computer system. The daughter-in-law had already warned the company she suspected Smith-Deaton might try to change the beneficiary without permission.

Smith-Deaton sued, alleging age discrimination was the real reason for her firing. But her replacement was a mere five years younger—not enough of an age difference to support a lawsuit without direct evidence. (Smith-Deaton v. Western & Southern Financial Group, No. 1:08-CV-505, 2009)

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