Age discrimination on the rise? What employers should know.

| Jun 25, 2021 | employment law

Hiring new talent is one of the many factors that help the business world keep moving and growing. It is a chance for employers to introduce new perspectives into their business and company culture.

Even so, employers must ensure their efforts and endeavors to bring in new talent do not lead to employment disputes. They should be particularly mindful of disputes involving accusations of ageism in these cases, as this risk seems to be increasing.

The case against HP demonstrates the risk employers face

HP and the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company have dealt with accusations of age discrimination for several years now. Employees in California first filed cases against the company in 2016. In 2020, a federal judge denied HP’s efforts to dismiss the claim. Now, there are 36 former employees a part of a class-action lawsuit.

The particular issue in question stemmed from the so-called unwritten policy of the “Workforce Restructuring Initiative.” Plaintiffs claim that the company introduced this initiative in 2012 to replace older employees with younger ones, which led to denied promotions and wrongful termination.

Whether policies are written or not, it is against the law for employers to consider age in any employment action or decision, from hiring employees to laying them off. As this case shows, allegations of age discrimination could result in long-lasting litigation that puts both the business and the company’s reputation at risk.

Employers must stay ahead of discrimination

Employers must take extra care to prevent and avoid age discrimination. Even though this particular type of discrimination is often a challenge to prove, it is an increasing issue in the workplace. Reports in recent years indicate that:

  • Older workers make up a larger percentage of the workforce and will continue to do so
  • In turn, employee claims of age discrimination are on the rise

It is often helpful for employers to assess their recruiting practices, diversity efforts and company culture for signs of age discrimination. Such discrimination can often be subtle, and employers might not be aware of issues until they face a lawsuit. That is why employers must search for and mitigate these risks preemptively.