The Top 15 Checklist for Avoiding Age Discrimination

  1. Wages and compensation. Employees and job applicants who are 40 or older must be paid the same as younger employees.
  2. Fringe benefits. Older employees must qualify for and receive the same health insurance, vacation, sick time and other benefits, and must not incur greater payroll deductions or to work more hours to qualify.
  3. Recruitment and Advertising. Do not put preferred age ranges or age limits in help-wanted advertisements.  Stay away from terms such as “college” or “student.”
  4. Hiring. Do not make hiring decisions based on age.  Do not give younger candidates greater access or broader exposure to the hiring process.
  5. Layoffs and terminations. Reductions in force should not be based on age.  Nor should they target the highest-paid employees who may have seniority but may represent the oldest group of employees.  Do not require older workers to retire at a certain age (except for executives and high policymakers).
  6. Job classifications. Do not define jobs by age or classify workers based on age.
  7. Assignments and transfers. Do not give the best jobs to the younger employees; do not deny training programs and opportunities for advancement to older employees.  Do not give greater responsibility to employees based on age.
  8. Promotions and demotions. Do not assume older workers are unwilling to change or to change leadership styles.  Give all qualified employees the same opportunities for promotion and make promotion decisions based on an age-neutral basis.  Punishments, demotions and re-assignments must be consistent from one age bracket to another.
  9. Training programs. All advancement opportunities, new job designations, company-sponsored educational backgrounds, and apprenticeships must be evenly offered to employees of all ages.
  10. Retirement plans. Pensions and other retirement programs must be offered to employees with the same qualifying criteria, the same contribution and benefit accrual schemes, regardless of age. However, mandatory retirement or re-assignment can be imposed on bona fide executives and high-level policymakers who qualify for a certain level on retirement benefits and meet other criteria.
  11. Leaves of absence. They must be granted or denied uniformly. The terms and conditions for qualifying for a leave of absence, the compensation or lack thereof, and the length of the leave must all be fixed without consideration of age.
  12. Complainers. Avoid any discipline, unfair treatment, or other adverse job action against any employee who complains about age discrimination, or who files an age discrimination charge or participates or cooperates in another employee’s age discrimination case.
  13. Jokers and Harassers. Prevent joking about age or older people. Quickly remove any age-related cartoons, drawings, expressions or other depictions.  Develop anti-harassment policies and enforce them.
  14. Disparate Impacts. Be sure that all recruitment activities, compensation schemes, downsizing programs, and other business events do not inadvertently treat older employees unfairly, even if age is not a factor and even if a neutral approach was followed.
  15. Data Collection and Retention. Keep employee and payroll records for three years, Maintain job applications, resumes, communications with employment agencies, employee test results and related papers for one year after taking action relating to the records.

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