The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) defines age discrimination, or ageism, as organizational decision-making that takes into account the age of employees when making decisions of employee benefits (Sawyer, 2017). In the past decade, even more cases of age discrimination have surfaced, causing businesses and companies money, time and credibility. (Doyle, 2018). Regardless of age, employers should be judged based on their performances and qualifications.
Though it is illegal, companies still act in unethical ways, offering different pay and benefits, job assignments, and even termination or layoffs because of age (Sawyer, 2017). As of 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that about 21 percent of discrimination complaints were regarding age (Doyle, 2018). Employees must receive the same benefits regardless of age, the only exception being when the cost of providing supplemented benefits to young workers is the same as providing reduced benefits to older workers (Doyle, 2018).
Laws protect some personal rights, for those who believe they are discriminated against, and companies face serious consequences. The ADEA protects applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age, and applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government (EEOC Publication). According to case statistics reported on the EEOC, there was an increase in the number of age discrimination cases filed between 2005 and 2015 (Sawyer, 2017).
Google Inc, the infamous technology company, is known as one of toughest companies to land a job with. Google is also known for its start-up mentality and flat organizational structure, which means that there are few or no levels of middle management. Like all other companies and organizations, leaders at Google set the standards and decide whether the company will be ethical or not.
Google found themselves fighting against age-discrimination lawsuits, having the first filed in 2007, followed by the second known case in 2015. These two cases offer insight into the implications of accommodating an aging workforce (Sawyer, 2017). In the first case, the plaintiff, Brian Reid was an employee who claimed he suffered age discrimination at the job (Sawyer, 2017). Reid claimed he encountered ageist attitudes from both coworkers and management, which resulted in termination after a performance review. (Sawyer, 2017). This caused Google’s reputation to become tainted, and they suffered financial costs.
Work ethics and behaviors trickle down to employees, and Google was found guilty of illegally discriminating against someone because of their age. In 2015, Robert Health also filed a case against Google, claiming unfair employment practices and was convinced his age was the reasoning. Many workers want to work for Google because the company is perceived as one of the best firms to work for and the employees define the company’s capabilities, such as the capability to innovate rapidly (Meyer, 2017). It is pertinent for companies to create “age fair” work environments (Sawyer, 2017). Leaders create and shape company culture through their behaviors.
The age discrimination concerns for Google are severe because it affects the company’s organizational functioning. Inclusive leadership means venturing beyond one’s own perspective, and always doing the right thing. There are solutions and options to reduce age discrimination, and Google, like other companies benefit from making better ethical decisions. If companies are aware of the law, have clear policies, evaluating employee performances, and training staff at all levels of the organization, discrimination can be avoided. It infringes of employees’ rights of fair treatment.
Not hiring someone because they are older could potentially cost employers the years of experience and older worker may have. Workers may even be concerned that once they hit a certain age, they may lose their job or be terminated. Clear guidelines for employers and aging workers, alike, regarding their right and responsibilities need to also set forth to ensure a fair and age equitable workplace (Sawyer, 2017). The company also needs to proactively review on a continual basis and ensure non-ageist practices in the workplace (Sawyer, 2017). By doing so, this decreases the feeling of insecurity by the employees.
Policies and codes of ethics are significant in businesses because they are essentially management tools for organizational values. Ethical leadership and reasoning can help companies gain the respect of employees and customers, which is an indirect link to profits for the business. Organizations that are effective, customer-centric, and employee-oriented, develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction within their organization (Doyle, 2017).
Communication, integrity, inclusion, and sensitivity to the needs of the employees round out the qualities and characteristics of an inspirational leader. The capacity to impart enthusiasm, reason, and significance to others sets up the helpful culture of an organization (Heathfield, 2018).
Promoting diversity in the workplace benefits employers because such organizational strategic planning promotes a positive work environment, which stimulates organizational productivity (Sawyer, 2017). Having this type of workplace environment allows employees to be divers in age, skillsets, levels of creativity, and open-mindedness. When employees have different perspectives and ideas are not uniformed, it allows diversity amongst the organization. If leaders respect all workers, give them access to the same opportunities, promote the most qualified candidates, and quickly address issues of stereotypes or unfortunate language, for example, it’s easier to create a healthy corporate culture.
Organizations are denied to subject workers to unreasonable treatment or unmitigated segregation in view of these legitimately secured qualities (Doyle, 2017). Proactively avoiding age discrimination in the workplace requires organizations and businesses to incorporate discrimination and diversity training. Aside from training, it’s important to clearly define policies and set expectations for what will occur if a violation happens (Doyle, 2017).
Because workplace ethics set the standards for the behavior of organizations, any type of discrimination in a company is seen as unethical. Discrimination is closely related to corporate social responsibility because this determines the moral behavior of the leaders and employees. Employers do not have the right to discriminate. The more developed an organization is, the likelihood of unethical behavior to occur is less likely.
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