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Age-based remark can spark lawsuit, even when made by older manager

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Respond to "age slurs" by any employees, even if the worker making the remark is older than the person who was slurred. As a recent case shows, over-40 employees can file age discrimination lawsuits even when the age-based comments come from managers in the same age group.

Recent case: When a 59-year-old furniture store manager was demoted, allegedly for declining store sales, two senior execs made several references to his age. He filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

A lower court tossed out the case, saying that because the execs making the comments were older than the manger, it could not be discrimination. But a federal appeals court rejected that reasoning and let the case proceed. This "same group" inference has been rejected by the Supreme Court in race and gender cases, and this court sees "no reason why the same reasoning should not apply to age discrimination cases." (Wexler v. White's Fine Furniture Inc., No. 99-3929, 6th Cir., 2003)

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