Employees who want to sue for age discrimination have to show that an adverse employment action—such as discharge, demotion, a pay cut or other substantial benefit loss—was connected to their age. Merely being moved to another shift doesn’t qualify.
Recent case: James was over age 60 and worked as a supervisor on the first shift at a chicken processing plant. When business needs changed,and other workforce reassignments meant his skills were needed on the third shift instead of the first. He was informed of the change, but instead of accepting it, he stormed out and then sued, alleging age discrimination.
But the court sided with the employer, noting that a change in the hours one works isn’t an adverse employment action if everything else remains the same. (Darnell v. Tyson Foods, No. 13-1011, 4th Cir., 2013)
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- Document solid business rationale for all salary increases and cuts
- Dueling employee associations don't prove discrimination
- When sexual harassment accusations fly, investigate and discipline right away
- Focus on ability to perform duties if you worry worker may have mental or emotional problems