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March 31, 2014
Is Your Company in Danger of an Age Discrimination Suit?
 
 Age discrimination has become an issue that more and more companies have to deal with.

As the American workforce ages, there has been an increase in the number of age discrimination cases that have been filed with the EEOC.

Between 1997 and 2007, there were an average of between 16,000 and 19,000 cases filed annually. Since 2008, the average number of complaints has risen to between 23,000 and 25,000 per year.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibits businesses from discriminating against employees, or job candidates, on the basis of age. The law is in place to cover workers who are 40 years of age and older.

This means that employers need to be prepared to deal with the possibility of one of their employees bringing an age discrimination case against them.

Here are some of the best ways to prepare for and handle an age discrimination case should the situation arise,
 
Document, Document, Document
It is likely that your human resources department already knows the importance of documentation, but when it comes to age discrimination cases it becomes especially important.

At the first mention of the possibility of an age discrimination case, it is vital that the manager begin to record all conversations with the employee. This will help protect the company should the case actually make it to court.

One good tip is to have the manager email the employee with a follow-up to any pertinent discussion asking them to confirm the main points of the discussion.
 
Have a Plan of Action
Every HR department should have a set plan for how they will respond to any claim of age discrimination in the workplace.

Two main points that should be included in this plan are an immediate response and to make sure that the employee knows that they are being taken seriously.

A formal response to acknowledge that they feel as though they have been treated unfairly and a notification that the HR department will be looking into it can go a long way to avoid a case being brought against the company.

Most employees do not want to spend time in court, and addressing their claim sooner, rather than later, can help them decide against bringing a formal complaint. 

Insure Security
It is extremely important that everyone is aware that there should be no retaliation against someone who brings an age discrimination complaint against their employer.

This can become very problematic in the later stages of the proceedings should a case actually be filed against your company. It is important to work with the complainant to figure out exactly how they feel they have been wronged and to address the issue as the company sees fit.

When it comes to an age discrimination case against your company it is best to handle the issue before it can be formally brought to court.

Publicity regarding age discrimination can be just as harmful to your company's reputation as an actual verdict against you.
 
With the increasing prevalence of age discrimination cases being brought against companies now that the American workforce is aging, it is important to make sure that your company is not in danger of an age discrimination suit.

It is also a good business practice to make sure that your company is prepared for the eventuality of a similar situation arising and has a plan in place to deal with the resulting actions.

Whether your employees are marketing pros, salespeople, online financial planners, or one of hundreds of other classifications, an age discrimination suit can damage not only your wallet, but also your business reputation.

With these simple steps you can help safeguard your 

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Thomas Verdone is an author who covers a wide range of topics, including finance, fitness, personal development, Bluegreen Resorts and spokeo.com.
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