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Age-related comment doesn’t always show bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you learn a manager made an age-related comment, don’t panic. Context is everything.  An obvious discriminatory statement—“I am terminating you because you are old”—is one thing. However, a general comment—for example, about the advantages of accepting a retirement package as an older employee—probably isn’t biased.

Recent case: Dana was over age 40. She refused an initial severance offer if she would accept discharge. Then the company made another offer and a supervisor told her that she might want to consider accepting the package because of her age. She still didn’t and was discharged.

Dana sued, alleging the comment proved age discrimination. The court disagreed. The comment was, in context, merely advice on the advantages of the severance package for an older worker. (Caldwell v. Enterprise Products, No. 15-3463, SD TX 2016)

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