The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Novo Nordisk, based in Plainsboro Township New Jersey, alleging age discrimination against a 62-year-old employee who was denied a lateral transfer due to her age. The hiring manager chose a younger, less-qualified employee because he “wanted someone who would be in the position long-term.” This case hasn’t been settled, but it’s a good reminder to check your hiring processes throughout your organization, not just initial applications.
EEOC v. Novo Nordisk, Inc.
The 62-year-old employee asked for the transfer to be to another territory closer to her home. She had been with Novo since 2015. The hiring manager brought in a younger candidate from another state. According to the EEOC’s Press Release, Novo conducted an internal investigation and discovered that the hiring manager did violate their age discrimination policies by hiring the younger employee. Even though the hiring manager violated policy, the older employee was still refused the transfer. The EEOC attempted to reach a settlement before filing a lawsuit through conciliation but was unsuccessful.
The ADEA Protects Older Workers
Not only did the hiring manager violate Novo Nordisk’s policies, but he also potentially violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers over the age of 40. Businesses cannot make decisions that involve older workers based on their age. The hiring manager’s mistake was in wanting someone who would be in the position long-term, presupposing that the older worker wasn’t as committed to the company or that she would retire soon. The decision not to transfer the employee wasn’t based on qualifications, but on age.
The lawsuit is still in its early stages. Nothing has been decided, but the EEOC is committed to ensuring that hiring decisions are made fairly, especially for older workers.