Millennials and Generation Zers have started to use the phrase “Ok, boomer” to dismiss or mock Baby Boomers online. The phrase has continued to grow in popularity, which has led many people to start using it in offline conversations as well. But is it appropriate for the workplace? Or is saying “Ok, boomer” to a colleague a form of age discrimination? Here’s what younger generations need to know:
Age Discrimination Laws
Many employers believe negative stereotypes about older workers being unproductive, resistant to change, and less innovative. Because of these beliefs, many employers favor hiring and promoting younger employees. But fortunately, employers are not allowed to make employment-related decisions based on an older employee’s age.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was established to protect older workers, who are often treated unfairly in the workplace as they inch closer and closer to retirement. Under the ADEA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older. This means employers cannot make any employment-related decisions, including who to hire, fire, promote, or reassign, based on an older individual’s age. The law only covers workers who are at least 40 years of age—it does not protect younger workers from age discrimination.
Is “Ok, Boomer” Discriminatory?
Under the ADEA, it is illegal to harass someone based on their age. Harassment can take on many forms, but it often involves repeated offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age. Many older workers may find the phrase “Ok, boomer” to be offensive or derogatory since it is meant to dismiss or mock them. As a result, using this phrase in the workplace could be considered age discrimination.
However, the law states that isolated or offhand comments about a person’s age does not constitute harassment. Legally, it is not harassment unless it either occurs so often that it creates a hostile work environment or it leads to an adverse employment action, such as the termination of an older worker. So in most cases, teasing an older worker by saying “Ok, boomer” is not considered age discrimination. But even if it is legal, it may not be an appropriate comment to make in the workplace.
Are you a victim of age discrimination? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our experienced attorneys seek justice against your employer for violating your workplace rights. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.