Sunday, September 15, 2013

Code Words For Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is rampant in America.   And many Americans think age discrimination is hunky dory (an expression used in this country by older people).  Late night talk show hosts joke about older politicians being perceived as infirm or senile (another old person expression).  There is no other protected group in discrimination law about which it is more accepted to ridicule.  People jokingly call older workers over-the-hill, or other put downs. In truth, older workers can be more experienced, more confident, more dependable and more loyal.

I think it's sad to see older, experienced, vibrant employees dyeing their hair, injecting botox, or changing their wardrobe to look or make others think they look younger.  What is this country coming to?  We don't want 30 year old Supreme Court justices for a reason.  It takes years to gather the wisdom, knowledge and experience to be a great appellate court judge.  Two federal judges in Kansas City who are still on the bench are in their 80's.  Do you want a brand new brain surgeon to cut on your brain?  I would prefer one with a little experience.

In trying age discrimination cases, I have noticed certain code words that indicated employers are not valuing employees because the employers consider them to be too old.  Here are a few:

1.  She is too set in her ways.

2.  He has trouble keeping up with technology.

3.  We need energetic employees.

4.  This company needs employees with vibrant, new ideas.

5.  Isn't he going to be retiring soon?

Perhaps a workforce of only young people may not be what it's cranked up to be.  I am glad Benjamin Franklin had a few years under his belt when he helped create this country.  The next time you want to fire someone because he or she is old, remember, that if you are lucky, that person being fired could be you in a few years.

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