Running A Business: What Is Your Legal Obligation To Older Individuals?

12 January 2016
 Categories: Law, Blog


Back in the day, when you retired, you retired. You didn't go back to work. However, it isn't like that today. This is likely because the cost of living has risen so much over the years. By 2022, it is estimated that more than 30 percent of retirees between 65 and 74 years of age will still be in the workforce. With that being said, as a new business owner with little knowledge of the law, how do you handle older applicants – retirees or not – in all aspects of the business?

The Hiring Process

Both state and federal laws prohibit you from discriminating against a potential job candidate due to their age, especially if they're 40 years of age or older. So, you cannot simply refuse the job opening to an 68-year-old individual with gray hair because of their age. If they have the skills necessary to perform the job, you must consider them for the position. The law does not only keep you from discriminating in terms of hiring, but it also impacts how you advertise a job opening. So, be careful with wording your job advertisements to ensure they don't come off as discrimination.

The Employment Process

Well, now you have to make sure that you don't discriminate against them during their employment with you. They must always be treated like any other employee. Compensation, promotions, demotions, job assignments, and work evaluations must be performed like any other case and cannot be based on the employee's age. You also cannot force older employees to pay a higher premium for health, life or any other type of insurance plan that you offer your employees. In addition, federal law states that you must set forth policies that will protect your older employees from harassment based on their age from other employees.

The Firing Process

Just as you can't use age as a basis to hire an employee, you also cannot use it if you want to fire them. In fact, if you are downsizing your business, you cannot target an older individual in this process. You also are prohibited from trying to force an older employee to retire early.

State and federal laws dictate a lot of what you can and cannot do when it comes to older employees and retirees. It's a lot to take in when you're just starting out as a business, especially when age discrimination is a bit more complex and less obvious than other types of discrimination. So, if you're worried about whether you are opening yourself up to an age discrimination lawsuit or need assistance in creating clear guidelines and policies, don't hesitate to contact a knowledgeable lawyer like Robert L Lilley Co Lpa.