Disciplining Employees Who Violate Discrimination Laws
The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 (ADEA) typically applies to employers who have 20 or more employees and protects workers who are 40 years of age and older. Note that in the United States, people under the age of 40 are not in a protected class due to age. With the advancement toward retirement of the baby-boom generation (those people born in 1941 through 1962), the incidences of age discrimination are increasing. Age discrimination can occur when someone is not hired due to being perceived as “too old” to offer long-term benefits to an organization (disparate treatment), or by posting a recruitment notice that “recent high school graduates needed for entry-level positions” stops an entire group of older individuals from having access to a job (disparate impact). Despite the law, however, courts often support the case made by employers against age discrimination, which has created the perception by many business leaders that they do not really need to worry about age discrimination. Loopholes, defenses, and the clause, “reasonable factors other than age” (RFOA), have heightened that perception. Note that RFOA only applies to disparate impact, not disparate treatment.
Consider the following scenario:
Rachella Ramirez is the Marketing VP for Sunbright T-Shirt LLC (STS). The company makes trendy t-shirts and sells them in mall kiosks, on Amazon, and on Woot.com, throughout the U.S. STS has 250 employees and is rapidly growing. However, the “new product line” division is struggling, and Rachella feels it is due to too many older employees who are not up on the new trends of their customers. She decides to do a few things to fix the problem. Here are her actions:
She creates 20 job openings in the new product division. She then directs her recruiting specialist to post the jobs on Indeed, Monster, and on a garment association website, stating that STS is looking for “recent college graduates with product design, marketing, or fashion design” degrees to help design new t-shirts.
She sends a note to the current department head of the product design team to downgrade all of his over 55 employees’ performance reviews this year so that none achieve more than a 3 on a 5-point scale.
She is overheard by two employees, who are over 55, talking on the phone to the CEO, saying: “I know—that product design team is a real problem. When do you think these baby boomers will ever start retiring?” Then, after a pause: “Don’t worry—I have this figured out.”
She puts together a voluntary early retirement package for all workers who are 55 and over, and who have worked for the company for more than 10 years, and sends it out to all of those workers. For each of the workers who does not take the offer, she works with HR to start them on performance plans as a result of their lowered performance evaluations.
As the HR Director, you recently learned of Ms. Ramirez’s behaviors and will write a 2- to 3-page memo to the CEO that will recommend either terminating or disciplining Rachella Ramirez, the Marketing VP, in this week’s Discussion.
To complete this Assignment, your memo should include the following:
An introduction which briefly explains the situation and addresses the difference(s) between potential disparate impact and disparate treatment.
A review of the laws involved in the situation, i.e., age discrimination laws relevant to termination in the workplace and how they were violated by Rachella’s behaviors.
A recommendation of whether Rachella should be terminated or disciplined, and why.
A draft of the written memo you would recommend be given to Rachella to support your decision to either discipline or terminate her.
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Memo- Violation of Discrimination Laws
TO: John Doe, CEO, Sunbright T-shirt LLC (STS)
FROM: Mrs. Amberson, HR Director
DATE: DD MM, 2020
SUBJECT: Disciplinary Action against Ms. Rachella for Violating Age Discrimination Laws
It has come to my attention that one of the employees named Rachella Ramirez has violated the discrimination laws, specifically, by intending to downgrade, wanting them to retire and planning not to hire them anymore. Such actions are against the employment laws; particularly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. I recommend that disciplinary actions, including a stern warning, should be communicated to Ms. Rachella Ramirez.
Age Discrimination in the Employment Act (ADEA) prevents employers from recruiting or promoting employees depending on age. This law came to operation in 1967. However, age discrimination is common practice in the United States that takes different forms. Whereas age comes with experience in employment, sometimes it messes up the organization’s production and performance, especially in an organization where technology and fashion trends are essential. Age discrimination occurs in different forms, such as disparate treatment and disparate impact. The disparate treatment is different from disparate impact. It involves making decisions to refuse to recruit, decline to promote, or discharge individuals or cut their pay or impose stiff working conditions because of their age. While disparate impact involves the employment practices that affect one group over the other, for example, in this situation, I find that posting a notice to hire recent school graduates for entry-level jobs means that the older people are prevented from joining Sunbright T-shirt LLC. Therefore, Ms. Rachella should be warned for her gross misconduct in the organization.
The Labor Laws Violated by Ms. Rachella.
I have established that Ms. Rachella violated various labor law through her actions. First, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlines that it is illegal to discriminate against employees based on their age, sex, religion, color, or national origin (Kenton, 2020). This particular law disregards any form of discrimination in the workplace. However, Ms. Rachella intended to put workers aged 55 years and above on performance plans, evidently indicates that she is against the older people in the company. Further, intending to them under lower performance evaluations is a form of harassment that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It has also been proved that she violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) that protects employees or future workers are 40 years and above from any form of discrimination in the organization (McKay, 2016).Ms. Ramirez disregarded the importance of the older people in the company, violates ADEA. For example, she practiced a disparate treatment by sending a notice to the department heads to unfairly downgrade the employees who are 55 years and above during performance review. Assigning older people a performance scale of less than3 out of five shows that these employees are not productive. However, she made the decision based on age and not their performance. You and I know how much we value and obey old workers. However, she was heard saying that she wants them to retire. She was quoted saying, “I know—that product design team is a real problem. When do you think these baby boomers will ever start retiring?” Then, after a pause: “Don’t worry—I have this figured out.” She set all the plans to ensure that older people retire. Placing a notice to recruit recent graduates for entry jobs means she no longer wanted to hire old employees; this is a disparate impact likely affect the more former employees in the organizations. These actions violate, the employment laws. I therefore, recommend the following disciplinary actions against her.
Violation of such labor laws attract heavy punishments, including termination of the employee’s contract. However, since her actions were realized before, the implementation I recommend the following disciplinary actions against the employee.
- Ms. Rachella should be issued with a warning letter. This letter should warm her against being engaged in further discriminatory actions in the company. Since this is the first case of age discrimination reported against the employee, I find warning to be the most effective to influence behavior change. However, if such actions persist, the contract I will request you to terminate her contract.
- Further, Ms. Rachella should take the responsibility of designing a performance improvement plan for older employees in her department. Involving her in creating a formal performance improvement plan, will make her accountable for low performance of the older employees in her department (Heathfield, 2019).
- Ms. Rachella should write an apology letter to you and the HR department, citing her that she will never get involved in such misconduct. Failure to do so, I request you to terminate her contract. An apology letter will enable us know whether she is ready to change or not.
Notably, I have also drafted a memo recommending Rachella’s dismissal/disciplinary action, dated, July- 2020.
Mrs. Amberson, HR Director.
TO: Ms. Rachella Ramirez, the Marketing VP for Sunbright T-Shirt LLC
FROM: Mrs. Amberson, HR Director
DATE: DD MM, 2020
RE: A Warning for Violation of Age Discrimination Laws.
This memo serves as a warning for violating the workplace discrimination laws.
The reason for this warning is simple, it has been found that you have a negative attitude towards the older employees. Specifically, you want the older employees to retire, downgraded or not to be recruited anymore. Adequate investigation has been conducted and you have been found guilty for disobeying the employment discrimination laws, specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
Since this is the first time you committing this act, you are warned, henceforth, to obey the older employees and follow the organizations procedures to communicate your dissatisfaction. Further, as a caution, you will be involved in designing a performance improvement plan for the old.
You should take this as a caution, since further actions will lead to termination of your contract.
Mrs. Amberson, HR Director.
Heathfield, S. (2019). Use an employee performance improvement plan to boost productivity. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/performance-improvement-plan-contents-and-sample-form-1918850
Kenton, W. (2020). Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/age-discrimination-employment-act-1967.asp
McKay, D. (2016,). Too old to get ahead? The Age Discrimination in Employment Act can help. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/preventing-age-discrimination-at-work-525696