Mandatory Retirements Could Get EEOC Attention

Posted September 14, 2016 by Mary McGinley

Forcing employees into mandatory retirement when they reach a certain age could land a company into some serious trouble with the federal government. That kind of trouble is exactly what one Colorado hospital has found itself in after the EEOC filed a lawsuit against them for age discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that the hospital in question forced employees into retirement once they reached age 65. The suit also claims that managers at the hospital made ageist comments such as younger nurses being able to “dance around the older nurses” or that they preferred nurses that were younger and “fresher”.

The stereotypes about older workers are widespread. These assumptions include that older workers produce less, are less motivated, flexible and younger workers are preferred according to Phoenix District EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “These stereotypes are flatly untrue and must be recognized for what they are — prejudice and false assumptions.”

The core issue regarding that is that of so-called mandatory retirement. Many companies have the erroneous notion that there are no repercussions for forcing older employees into retirement. Mandatory retirement ages within a company, with few exceptions, are more likely to be textbook examples of age discrimination lawsuits that can be easily proven. There are exceptions, however. These exceptions permit but do not require mandatory retirement include:

  • Executives or other employees in high, policy-making positions at age 65.
  • Publicly employees such as firefighters and law enforcement officers at age 55.

Other lawsuit-worthy actions made by companies that can result in age discrimination lawsuits can include such actions as lessening the duties or pay of older employees, as well as demoting them from a position that they held once they reached a certain age. Such actions could be viewed as attempting to force an employee to retire. The key difference in avoiding a lawsuit lies in looking at a worker’s overall rather than looking at their age. Older employees, like any other, can be held to certain duty standards.  If a worker is not performing those duties, they can be treated as any other employee.

Many within the current workforce are nearing retirement age.  Companies should always seek to make the most of the strengths and talents of all of its workers, regardless of age or background. At EinstienHR, we understand the questions you might have regarding retirement. We can offer good advice as well as a wide range of services to help small and medium-sized organizations to make the right choices for their needs.

Contact us today to find out how we can help and get a no obligation quote. You can reach us toll-free at 770-962-1700 (EMC2).