While Walmart's in-house counsel may know all the rules regarding age and disability discrimination, some of Walmart's in-store employees clearly do not. The EEOC filed suit against Walmart on behalf of David Moorman, a former manager at a Walmart store in Keller, Texas, alleging age and disability discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Moorman claimed he was taunted and ridiculed by direct supervisors who called him "old man" and "old food guy." He was also allegedly denied reasonable accommodations for his diabetes (he requested a change in work duties) and was subsequently fired.
Walmart has agreed to settle the case, and to pay Moorman $150,000. Walmart also must train its employees on what conduct constitutes unlawful discrimination or harassment under the ADA and the ADEA.
Age Discrimination Overlooks the Benefits of a Mature Workforce
While some companies may place a premium on younger tech savy employees, companies like CVS and Michelin are making an effort to retain their more mature employees. David Casey, CVS' vice president for work force strategies, told The New York Times, "A good number of our pharmacy customers are going to be mature customers, and as part of our focus on diversity, we want a work force that reflects our customer base. So it was a no-brainer for us to have a lot of mature workers as part of our overall work force."
Older workers also have the benefit of longer experience, an understanding of the business learned through years of mistakes and achievements. These employees can be a great source of wisdom and mentoring for younger or newer employees. It is a resource that many companies are not utilizing.
The Cost of Discrimination Far Outweighs the Cost of Training
Not only can bullying and discriminating comments get your company in trouble with the EEOC, but they also a create a disruptive work environment, lowering productivity and raising employee turnover. The harassment and discrimination won't affect just the employee being harassed, but also the morale of other coworkers.
It may be common sense to you that certain comments are harassing, discriminating, or just plain mean, but don't trust that your employees know too. While your employees may think they're just joking, such comments can get you sued. Train your employees on the ADA and ADEA now before the EEOC comes calling.