Mandatory retirement age lands employer in hot water
- A dental surgery office will pay $47,000 to resolve claims that it violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it fired an employee pursuant to a company policy that required workers to retire at age 65.
- The employer fired an employee who had worked there for 37 years just four days after her 65th birthday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit.
- In addition to the monetary settlement, Professional Endodontics agreed to provide its employees with anti-discrimination training. "Private employers need to understand that mandatory retirement policies run afoul of the ADEA and will be met with challenge," EEOC said in announcing the settlement.
Despite 50 years on the books, employers are still having trouble complying with the ADEA, the EEOC previously told HR Dive.
“When the law was first passed, mandatory retirement was common and life expectancy wasn’t much longer,” Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior advisor at EEOC, said. But during the last half century, a lot changed. Still, age discrimination remains the workplace's open secret, according to Ventrell-Monsees. "[It's] actually more accepted than other forms of discrimination," she said.
In celebration of the law's 50th anniversary, EEOC has pledged to step up its ADEA enforcement. To ensure compliance, employers can start by asking their older workers what they need when a problem arises, experts say. Business also may want to review their recruiting practices, severance agreements and manager training, and consider what it might take to create an inclusive workplace culture.