Are you above the age of 40 while working in the corporate environment?
You might consider this age factor as a threat and feel discriminated in the working conditions. Well, not to worry as The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) is here to protect you from any kind of unfair treatment.
Back in 1990, Congress revised their laws in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to adjust any kind of prejudice an older person receives while working. This way the rights of the older employees were reserved and protected.
However, in some cases, the liability of age of an elderly might become a cost to the firm. The organizations usually search for energetic individuals who can prove to be beneficial for the business. However, people who have served for years cannot be made redundant without any future security. For example, as the company understands that its employee is aging, they must provide him/her with health benefits or insurance.
It has become essential for both employers and employees to go through the older workers benefit protection act thoroughly before they take any further steps.
To be protected from any lawsuits and court hearings, employers and employees should firmly obey the OWBPA and ADEA act.
Dismissal procedure under the older workers benefit protection act
It is understandable that due to some circumstances, organizations try to squeeze down their workforce. A fine example of this could be the recent pandemic. Many individuals were asked to leave due to a lack of finance and work opportunities.
However, firms need to be very careful while they make their old employees redundant. If they do so, they should have a set of valid reasons for terminating their older workers.
OWBPA restricts these reasons for the firing of an old employee;
Forcing an employee to sign a waiver without their consent
Using their age as a reason for their termination
Pointing the older employees for unnecessary reasons
In case, the employers don’t want to stand in the honored court walls, they must make sure that their employees do not apply any of the reasons mentioned above. Otherwise, they can be charged under the OWBPA and ADEA.
Moreover, the older workers benefit protection act gives the leverage to the elderly to plan early retirements, get rid of incentive plans, and other possible ways of departure too.
Strong claims of OWBPA
Once the employer decides for the dismissal of an older worker, it is needed to keep these claims in mind, in case of avoiding the future law risks involved.
Whenever an employer passes on the waiver to the older worker, it is important to make sure that the employee is not pressurized in any sort.
No verbal verdict, only in written form
Anything verbal doesn’t proclaim to have the same value as something in written form. So, the employer should give the waiver in the written form.
Everything written in the letter should be understandable. For example, if an employee is not able to identify in the letter, so the employer must make him/her understand.
Keep ADEA claims in mind
Whatever clauses and reasons are put in by the employer should be valid in every case. It should not be contradicting with ADEA claims in any form.
Provide the older workers with accurate information
Sometimes, big promises are made and they are not materialized. Employers need to make sure that they do not mislead the older worker in any sort. For example, promising health insurance earlier which after the dismissal, the employer fails to provide with.
Time to think
Instead of asking for answers at the same time, older workers should at least be given 21 days to understand and think over the offer while keeping the circumstances of the business in mind.
Take an attorney on board
While making the decisions for themselves, older workers should be motivated to take the aid and advice from the professionals.
What are the benefits that can be provided to the older workers?
Pensions and other payment allowances are provided after the older workers complete their good years of services. However, there are additional services too that can be added to the list such as;
What happens in a group termination?
On a few occasions, two or more older workers are dismissed from their services simultaneously. However, if the dismissal is not justified and incurs any kind of age discrimination, the laws of OWBPA are even stronger in this scenario.
Organizations need to give a full-fledged explanation to their older employees regarding why are they being laid off. Moreover, in an individual situation, the older worker is given a timeframe of 21 days, however, in this case, the group has good 45 days to consider their decision.
No matter how big the organization is, they need to be extra careful while making their older workers unemployed. The OWBPA and ADEA have provided them with immense power, which they can use for their benefit in any situation.
Instead of giving false reasons, firms need to try to justify their point on valid grounds.
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