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HR Departments and Age Discrimination


According to a recent article in Slate:

Employees viewed as not adapting to changes in the workplace tend to identify as disillusioned to their managers and human resources personnel, which may precipitate their eventual departure. As a company pivots its business strategy, it’s human resources’ job to retain only those employees they believe will help the company reach its goals.

Many of the employees identified as undesirable are often “older” workers. A New York-based media company recently shed itself of many of its long-time employees as it attempted to move away from print and focus on digital products. Most of those laid off, fired or forced to resign were over 50 years of age.

“New management came in and insisted on digitally savvy people,” said a former editor. “People who had been getting good performance reviews for years were suddenly obsolete. They assumed that if you started your career when we used typewriters, you’re probably not a good fit for the digital newsroom.”

According to Donna Ballman, a Florida employment lawyer and author of the book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards says it’s one of the more common strategies used to get rid of older employees.

“If, after years of great performance reviews, you’re getting reprimanded for things everyone does, or being nitpicked for things the company didn’t care about before, it’s possible that the company is gearing up for what I call the ‘suddenly stupid defense.’ They’re building a case to get rid of you for poor performance – trying to show a ‘legitimate reason’ other than age for firing you. If you’re being targeted for write-ups when younger employees do the same things and aren’t written up, you may have an age discrimination claim.”

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