When a company reorganizes and consolidates several positions into one, the resulting reduction in force (RIF) may affect an older employee. The employee who loses a job may feel the real reason is age and that the employer took advantage of a RIF to eliminate older workers.
You can structure your RIFs to avoid losing an age discrimination claim. The key is to lay out a strict, business-based rationale for any changes, including consolidated positions. Then document why the employee who got the new position was the best qualified for the job.
Caveat: If supervisors have made ageist comments, it will be much tougher to argue that age wasn’t a factor in the RIF.
Recent case: Mike worked for the Belk department store chain until he lost his job at age 63 during a RIF.
His position, director of customer relationship (register to read more), was consolidated with that of the company’s vice president of marketing and customer research. The new...