by Mary Greenwood, Author of How to Interview Like a Pro, 43 Rules For Getting Your Next Job. Winner of 12 Book Awards. www.marygreenwood.org
Calling an older applicant a derogatory name can be age discrimination and grounds for a complaint or lawsuit.
The following is a list, by alphabetical order, of some names not to call your employees or applicants. It does not matter if there is no malicious intent or the comments were meant as a joke or term of endearment. The fact that they are said can be enough to show Age Discrimination.
Before you meet with an applicant, look at this list so that you are sure that you remember not to use any of these terms.
Aged, ancient, antediluvian, antiquated, antique, and archaic.
Bat, battle-axe, been-around-the block, and broken-down.
Can't teach an old dog new tricks, cautious, creaky, and crone.
Dear, debilitated, declining, decrepit, difficult to train, dinosaur, and duffer.
Elder, elder statesman, emeritus, enfeebled, and elderly.
Fart, feeble, fossil, and fusty.
Geriatric, getting on, goat, golden-ager, grandma, grandpa. grey, grey-haired, and grizzled.
Has-been, honey, and hoary.
Impaired, inactive, and infirm.
Mature and Methuselah.
Not a spring chicken, not creative, and not relevant.
Obsolete, old, olden, old bag, old duffer, old-fangled, old-fashioned, old goat, old guard, old hat, outworn, oldie, old man, old school, old-timer, old woman, on last leg, out-dated, over-the-hill, and over-qualified.
Passe, past his/her prime, prehistoric, primeval, primordial, and prune,
Relic, retired, resistant to change, and rusty.
Seasoned, senile, senior, shot, and slow.
Technologically challenged, time-worn and tired.
Worse for Wear.
You might say that you would never use any of these terms in the workplace and perhaps that is true. However, employers spend millions of dollars each year resolving age discrimination cases.
Some of these terms may sound innocuous enough, like grandma, grandpa, or even elder. If these innocent-sounding words are used to tease older employees or applicants and make them feel uncomfortable, that can be part of an age discrimination claim, especially if the younger employees are treated differently from the older employees.
Some of these terms may be stereotypes for older applicants, such as, can't teach a dog new tricks, resistant to change, cautious, technologically challenged and difficult to train. A stereotype is a fixed, generalized view of a group that is usually negative and not based on fact. The reality is that each person is different. A younger person can be technologically challenged and an older person may be a whiz at computers so the stereotypes are detrimental in the workplace.
While you may not hear jokes about race or gender much these days, somehow it is okay to tell a joke about an old geezer. That is changing as older applicants and employees know their rights.
Can you think of any other terms or words to add?