However, four out of five Americans over 50 say that they are going to have to delay their retirement plans and work into their golden years. Companies who are looking to ditch their older employees can be creative in the ways they do so in order to avoid discrimination claims. Below are 9 of their sneakiest ploys:
1. Job Elimination
This is one of the most common excuses to get rid of older employees. However, it’s usually just an excuse for what is really age discrimination. If the company is not really eliminating the job, just changing the title and giving it to someone younger, you might just have an age discrimination claim.
A company is supposed to attach to a layoff notice a list of other employees included and excluded from the layoff, along with their ages. Employers can be extremely sneaky about how they put together these reports. For example, some will show only select departments or specific job titles, which don’t give the whole picture. More often than not, they’ll include a few under-40 employees to make the bloodletting look less like age discrimination.
Still, if you have been selected for layoff and younger, less-qualified employees at your level have not, you might have an age discrimination claim. If you’re part of a one-person or small layoff and you can prove that younger people are not being included, then you might be able to prove age discrimination.
If, after years of great performance reviews, you start getting reprimanded for things everyone does, or being nit-picked about things the company never used to care about, it’s possible that the company is gearing up for what is known as the “suddenly stupid defense.” In other words, they’re building a case to get rid of you for poor performances – trying to show a legitimate reason other than age for getting rid of you. If you’re being targeted for write-ups when younger employees do the same things and aren’t written up, you might have an age discrimination claim.
4. Early Retirement
One way that employers get rid of older employees is offering a package that includes incentives to take early retirement. Some of these packages are way too good to pass up on, so if you’re offered one, think about it carefully. If you do turn it down, remember that you can still be fired at will. However, if the company only fires the older folks, you might have an age discrimination case.
5. Mandatory Retirement Age
If your employer still has a mandatory retirement age, they’re probably breaking the laws. There are exceptions for firefighters and law enforcement. There is also a very limited exemption for those who are at least 65 years old, who were executives or high-level policy-makers for their last two years, and who received an immediate non-forfeitable retirement benefit of at least $44,000.
6. Cutting Job Duties
One way to force older employees out is to cut job duties, decreasing your authority and humiliating you with demeaning tasks. If this happens, you might have an age discrimination claim. So don’t just quit in disgust as that’s what your employer wants.
Cutting you out of meetings, excluding you from work lunches, and sticking you in a small cubicle from away from the action is another way employers try to get older employees to quit. If only younger employees are being included in the activities which you’re being exclude from, this is evidence of age discrimination.
8. Cutting Hours
Another tactic used to put senior employees under duress is to cut hours to the bone. Starving you of hours is a way to force you to quit. If this is happening to you, take a look around and see if younger employees are being targeted to.
9. Denying Promotions or opportunities for Advancement
It’s illegal for an employer to deny you a promotion just because they think you might retire soon. Cutting down your job duties and isolating you are sneaky tactics they use so that they can claim you don’t have the experience or qualifications to get promoted. If you find that your opportunities are being limited, it’s time to document what is happening and see whether they are also targeting younger employees too.