Age discrimination alert: Beware using high training costs as excuse to deny promotion

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

We all know that it costs money to train employees—and that turnover after investing in advanced training is a genuine and expensive problem.

That doesn’t mean employers can get away with refusing to train someone approaching retirement age. That may be seen as age discrimination.

Recent case: John Campolieti worked as a Cleveland firefighter and applied for a transfer and promotion to the fire investigations unit. Campolieti was 64 years old at the time, and firefighters must retire at age 65 unless they are granted yearly extensions based on their desire to keep working.

Campolieti ordinarily would have received the promotion because the rules said the most-senior qualified employee should be chosen. But Campolieti was passed over in favor of a 35-year-old.

When he asked about the decision, he learned about a management rule requiring that all advanced training must be used for at least five years. Because the promotion involved advanced training, the fire department explained, Campolieti could not satisfy the five-year requirement since he would soon reach retirement age.

Campolieti sued for age discrimination, pointing out that all firefighters over age 65 who asked for an extension had been allowed to keep working.

The court ordered a trial, reasoning that it was hard to see the five-year rule as anything but age discrimination. (Campolieti v. City of Cleveland, No. 92238, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2009)

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