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.