The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a rule setting forth guidelines for determining what is a "reasonable factor other than age" in defense of lawsuits based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) crafted the rule to clarify "reasonable factor other than age" defenses for employers facing ADEA lawsuits by employees or former employees who feel harmed or wronged by an employment decision. The EEOC's action came after the Supreme Court had earlier issued its decisions in Smith v. City of Jackson and Meacham v. Atomic Power Laboratories regarding such defenses.

The EEOC is proposing a "balanced approach" based on these factors:

  • whether the employment practice and the manner of its implementation are common business practices;
  • the extent to which the factor is related to the employer’s stated business goal;
  • the extent to which the employer took steps to define the factor accurately and to apply the factor fairly and accurately (e.g., training, guidance, instruction of managers);
  • the extent to which the employer took steps to assess the adverse impact of its employment practice on older workers;
  • the severity of the harm to individuals within the protected age group, in terms of both the degree of injury and the numbers of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the employer took preventive or corrective steps to minimize the severity of the harm, in light of the burden of undertaking such steps; and
  • whether other options were available and the reasons the employer selected the option it did.

To help employers understand and observe the requirements of the ADEA, Personnel Concepts publishes a comprehensive ADEA Age Discrimination Compliance Kit. Get yours today.