It’s hard enough being a manager, supervisor or HR professional without worrying that a court may second-guess your decisions. It’s even harder in cases where making a mistake means personal liability. Then any jury award comes out of your own pocket as well as your employer’s.
Fortunately, you don’t have to add age discrimination claims to those for which you can be held personally liable.
Recent case: Helene Uhlman, who was more than 80 years old, lost her job with the city of Hammond Board of Health. She assumed the reason was age discrimination. She sued her employer plus her boss, the health officer for the Hammond Health Department.
Her lawyers argued that as an “agent” for the town, he met the definition of “employer” in the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
But the court rejected that reasoning. It pointed to discrimination cases involving the ADA and other Title VII provisions, in which courts across the board concluded that personal liability did not apply. It dismissed Uhlman’s case. (Uhlman v. Panares, et al., No. 2:07-CV-405, ND IN, 2008)
Final note: Courts have said that managers, supervisors and HR professionals may be personally liable for and wage-and-hour decisions. A regular reminder of what is at stake may encourage some managers and supervisors to be more careful about what they say or do.
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