Don’t badger older workers about retirement

Make sure supervisors and managaers understand that they should not ask employees about their retirement plans unless they have some valid reason directly related to running the business.

Constant badgering about retirement will backfire badly, especially if a supervisor also makes potentially ageist comments about the employee’s appearance, work habits or other characteristics.

Recent case: Deborrah, who was in her early 60s, worked as a school teacher. Her supervisor regularly sat down with her to discuss her teaching methods. He frequently asked if she had considered retiring and suggested she may want to spend more time with her grandchildren. Deborrah explained that she needed the money.

Her supervisor often told Deborrah that her teaching methods were “old” and “outdated” and expressed disappointment at her students’ test scores.

Eventually, after placing Deborrah on several improvement plans, the supervisor recommended that her contract not be renewed. Deborrah sued, alleging age discrimination and an age-based hostile work environment.

The court said her case could go to trial. It noted that the repeated retirement questions and comments about outdated methods might indicate that the decision was motivated by age. (Skaggs v. Van Alstyne Independent School District, ED TX)

Final note: Tell managers and supervisors that such conversations about retirement – if they take place at all – should never happen during a performance review or other work-related counseling. Also, warn supervisors to avoid loaded terms such as “old fashioned” or “outdated.”

Source: HR Specialist: Employment Law | April 2017