What Are Reasonable Factors When It Comes to Age Discrimination at Work?

Scroll down to read more!

What Are Reasonable Factors When It Comes to Age Discrimination at Work?

Scroll down to read more!

Table of Contents

Doesn’t everyone love acronyms especially HR? RFOA is an acronym you need to know and the EEOC confirmed that on March 30th by issuing a final ruling defining how employers are to deal with it. So let me start this age discrimination alert by explaining how the EEOC has changed the ADEA.

Understanding the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Perhaps a few definitions are in order before we begin. Most people probably know that EEOC stands for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Fewer people, but most HR people know that ADEA stands for Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the law that protects workers over the age of 40 from discrimination in all aspects of employment. Far fewer people, including HR, know what RFOA means. RFOA stands for “reasonable factors other than age” and deals with disparate impact situations and the defense to those situations. According to the EEOC “…the ADEA prohibits practices that, although facially neutral with regard to age, have the effect of harming older workers more than younger workers (known as “disparate impact”), unless the employer can show that the practice is based on an RFOA.”

Applying RFOAs and Reasonable Factors Other Than Age

RFOAs become relevant in situations where, according to the EEOC “The rule applies to only a few kinds of employment practices.  Specifically, it applies only to practices that are neutral on their face, that might harm older workers more than younger workers, and that apply to groups of people.  For instance, it applies to tests used to screen employees or to some procedures used to identify persons to be laid off in a broad reduction-in-force (“RIF”). An employer would only have to prove the use of RFOAs in a situation where an employee or applicant has “…identified a specific employment policy or practice, and established that the practice harmed older workers substantially more than younger workers.”

Reasonableness According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Each situation must be judged on its own merits, however, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) does provide a list of factors that should be considered in assessing “reasonableness.” These are:

  • The extent to which the factor is related to the employer’s stated business purpose;
  • The extent to which the employer defined the factor accurately and applied the factor fairly and accurately, including the extent to which managers and supervisors were given guidance or training about how to apply the factor and avoid discrimination;
  • The extent to which the employer limited supervisors’ discretion to assess employees subjectively, particularly where the criteria that the supervisors were asked to evaluate are known to be subject to negative age-based stereotypes;
  • The extent to which the employer assessed the adverse impact of its employment practice on older workers; and
  • The degree of the harm to individuals within the protected age group, in terms of both the extent of injury and the numbers of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the employer took steps to reduce the harm, in light of the burden of undertaking such steps.

What is Adverse impact

Obviously there is no “cut and dried” solution to making a determination on whether your actions as an employer that have an adverse impact on older workers can be deemed to be “reasonable.” Prior to taking actions that may potentially have an adverse impact on older workers (or any protected category for that matter) it is helpful, though not required, that you do an adverse impact analysis before moving on any decision. If you do this analysis, also called the Four-fifths rule analysis, then you will at least know if your actions have had such an impact.

For further guidance on this issue you can reference two documents.

Additionally, if you are unsure if your actions are going to cause problems you may want to consult your employment law attorney. Fully understanding the results of you actions can help you alter your decisions or at least be prepared to respond to any claim against you.

Did you like this post? Share it!

A Word From Our Sponsors

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

Recommended Posts

12 Types of Paid and Unpaid Leave and Time Off

A list for the HR professional to be able to answer employee questions related to time off....
google, google x-ray, sourcing, candidates, talent acquistion

Using Google X-Ray Search to Find Candidate

Learn how to use Google X-Ray to define and narrow your search for an ideal candidate in any industry - with examples!...
The Debate on Social Media Policies and Disclaimers The Debate on Social Media Policies and Disclaimers The Debate on Social Media Policies and Disclaimers The Debate On Social Media Policies and Disclaimers

5 Employee Twitter Bio Disclaimers You Should Add Today

Learn the top five Twitter (X) bio disclaimers every HR professional needs to protect personal and professional interests on social media....

How to Calculate FLSA Overtime Pay

Understand the Fair Labor Standards Act and learn how to calculate FLSA overtime pay to avoid any mistakes....
Free SHRM Recertification Credits

Maximize Your HR Potential with SHRM Recertification Credits

Discover how to earn free SHRM recertification credits with our guide to maintaining your credentials effortlessly....

HR Certification Podcast Episode 15: Reviewing Employment Law for HRCI & SHRM Exams

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we review employment law topics including adverse impact and the four-fifths rule....

5 Effective Employee Training Methods for 2024

Is adapting quickly to market changes a priority for your company’s future? If so, it’s crucial to equip your workforce with the necessary knowledge...

Navigating Career Change: Transitioning from HR to a New Career Path

Thinking about leaving HR for a new career? It happens to the best of us. Here's what you should consider first....

Checkout Our Products

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

More From Workology

Free SHRM Recertification Credits

Maximize Your HR Potential with SHRM Recertification Credits

Discover how to earn free SHRM recertification credits with our guide to maintaining your credentials effortlessly.

HR Certification Podcast Episode 16: Answering More of Your HR Exam Questions

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we are answering your HR Certification questions about SHRM and HRCI exams.
google, google x-ray, sourcing, candidates, talent acquistion

Using Google X-Ray Search to Find Candidate

Learn how to use Google X-Ray to define and narrow your search for an ideal candidate in any industry - with examples!
Your Guide to Easy SHRM-CP Recertification

Your Guide to Easy SHRM-CP Recertification: Stay Certified

Master SHRM-CP recertification with ease! Uncover the steps, credits, and strategies to maintain your HR credential and excel in your career.