What qualifies for age discrimination and can a person be terminated because they are not a fit?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What qualifies for age discrimination and can a person be terminated because they are not a fit?

I am 58-1/2 yrs. old and have over 36 years experience as an exec. admin. I started a new job on almost 4 months ago. Right after, I was given a day off with pay because management was extremely pleased with the way I successfully organized a Board of Directors meeting on ground transportation, hotels, meetings, meals, etc. My mom passed away last week. After discussing and obtaining approval from my manager, I took my 3 bereavement days and 1-1/2 days of vacation. When I returned to work today, I was told that I was no longer a fit and my termination has nothing to do with the passing of my mom. We have a 90 day probationary period which has passed. I was not given any verbal and/or written warnings. In fact, I should have received my benefits as of last month but my 90 day waiting period has to wait until the rest of the company re-enrolled on the first of this month. Can a person be terminated because they are not a fit with no warning? What qualifies for age discrimination?

Asked on July 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you have a written employment contract guarantying or protecting your employment, you are an employee at will and may be terminated at any time, for any reason, without warning--including being a "bad fit."
2) However, you cannot be terminated because you are over 40; being treated differently or worse than other employees due to age is  illegal.
The issue in your case is: was your termination because you are 58, or was it for some other reason? If for some non-age reason, it is legal. Since apparently you did not previously have any performance or disciplinary issues, there is reason to think that it may be due, at least in part, to your age. It would be worthwhile for you to contact the federal EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to raise an age discrimination complaint: let the agency look into this and see if they think that this was discrimination. If it is, you may be entitled to compensation. Good luck.

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