Tell bosses: Don’t nudge staff into retirement

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

The recession has put many retirement dreams on hold. A recent CareerBuilder survey says 72% of U.S. workers over age 60 are delaying retirement plans for financial reasons.

Remind supervisors to avoid comments that could be interpreted as pushing soon-to-retire workers out the door.

If an older employee has to be terminated, a supervisor’s not-so-subtle hints at retirement will make it easier to persuade a court that age was the supervisor’s true reason for the firing.

Recent case: A Texas trucking company fired a 65-year-old driver, allegedly for swearing over the company radio. But the employee sued for age discrimination, saying his supervisor had recently barraged him with questions such as, “When are you going to retire?” and “Aren’t you collecting Social Security?”

Plus, the employee’s lawyer showed that the number of employees over age 60 had fallen sharply after a recent company takeover.

The court dismissed the company’s summary judgment bid and sent the case to trial, citing the retirement comments as potential proof of age bias. (Clemons v. Texas Concrete, No. 07-09-0034, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2010)

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