Timing is everything. Suggesting retirement before any decision has been made to terminate an employee may show age discrimination. Discussing it after informing the employee that he’s been terminated doesn’t.
Recent case: Martin Hernandez worked as a library safety officer, performing the same functions as many much younger employees who were students.
When the library had its budget slashed, it decided to terminate its two full-time safety officers and rely on the students instead. During the termination meeting, an HR representative suggested Hernandez could retire.
He sued, alleging age discrimination and said the suggestion was proof the library wanted to get rid of older workers.
The court disagreed, given that the suggestion was made after discharge and was informational. (Hernandez v. Regents, No. B221773, California Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate District, 2011)