Manager told the whole company the age of an employee – now what do we do?

I am an HR manager. An employee recently had a birthday and a manager wanted to do something special for them by having every employee in the company sign a canvas. The problem is that the manager also proceeded to tell everyone in the company the age of the person with the birthday. The employee is embarrassed and humiliated. What is the best recommendation for recourse?

Rita Risser Chai replies:

First I would hope the manager immediately apologized to the employee. Second, the manager should receive a documented verbal warning. Third, every employee needs to know that they should never bring it up again (our Respectful Workplace program is a good way to make that point). Fourth, you, as the HR manager, must ensure that the employee is never discriminated against on the basis of age. Be hyper-sensitive to any criticism or adverse action the manager wants to give to the employee. Also, be aware of posters, cards or other ways that age discrimination might be present in the workplace. Good luck.

Posted 12-06-2016

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.