Do we have an age discrimination risk if employee can no longer perform his job? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Do we have an age discrimination risk if employee can no longer perform his job?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Q. Jim has been a security guard for my company for over 20 years, and has always performed his duties without problem. Since his 60th birthday a few years ago, however, Jim has become steadily less able to walk the required distances during his rounds, and has also been forgetting crucial requirements of his position. Am I allowed to discharge him?

A. Possibly. Under the Age Discrimination in Employ­­ment Act (ADEA), an employer may discharge an employee on the basis of age only when age is a bona fide occupational qualification necessary for safe and efficient operation of the business.

It seems like Jim is unable to safely and efficiently perform his duties, but the discharge is only passable if a reasonable accommodation for Jim’s age-specific needs (such as reassigning him to a more sedentary position that does not involve much walking) would cause you undue hardship.

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