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Beware calling older employee ‘old man’

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Include ageism in your discrimination and hostile work environment training. And for goodness sake, remind bosses not to refer to older workers as “old man” or “old woman.”

Recent case: Arnold worked for Crossroads Ford for several years, eventually becoming a manager. Then, when he approached his 60th birthday, his supervisor began referring to him as “the old man” and kidding him about not hearing the phone ring. Shortly after, the supervisor demoted Arnold and replaced him with a much younger man. Finally, he fired Arnold for privately selling a car.

Arnold sued under North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practices Act.

The trial court dismissed the case, but now the North Carolina Court of Appeals has reinstated the lawsuit. It reasoned that the name-calling and other ageist behavior was discrimination evidence. (Johnson v. Cross­­roads Ford, No. COA13-173, Court of Appeals of North Carolina, 2013)

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