Some people are now claiming that the creator of the happiest place on earth is actually guilty of age discrimination. A group of employees in Disney’s IT department in Florida were recently laid off. According to the lawsuit, Disney intentionally targeted older employees with the goal of replacing them with younger workers.
Disney denies these allegations, however, claiming that the lay-off was part of a strategic change at the company. Disney argues that they are transitioning to new technologies in their IT department. They claim that employees were laid off if they didn’t have the relevant skills for the new strategic direction of the business.
A Disney representative noted that the same attorney involved in the case also recently brought a national origin discrimination case against Disney, which the court quickly dismissed. They are accusing the attorney of bringing frivolous lawsuits against them.
Age Discrimination is Against the LawMany don’t realize that firing an employee or denying them a promotion based on their age is more than just a distasteful business decision; it is against the law. Employees over 40 are a protected class under United States employment laws. Unfortunately, some businesses will intentionally target large numbers of older employees for replacement. This allows them to take advantage of younger, often lower-paid workers.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 makes these behaviors illegal. Employers must judge, hire and fire employees based on their skills and performance, not their advanced age.
Is Disney Guilty of Age Discrimination?It is up to the court to decide if Disney really is guilty of age discrimination. They must review the evidence and determine whether the plaintiffs were treated unfairly. In the meantime, we all need to continue to put pressure on managers and businesses to ensure a fairer and safer workplace for everyone.
Dan A. Atkerson is a Dallas employment lawyer who fights passionately on behalf of victims of sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of workplace injustice.