Protecting Employers Since 1985

“OK, Boomer!”

Employers always seem to find themselves as the unwitting recipient/victim of the actions of others-sometimes other companies, sometimes the Government, but in almost all cases, some of their employees. Whether it is the Federal or State Government, the Me Too Movement or in this case, Generation Z and Millennials, Employers are always going to be “at the end of the line”.

As recently highlighted in a New York Times article, a new phrase has become emblematic of the “War Between Generations”. The term “Ok, Boomer!” which has been popularized on the Internet and, in particular on Twitter by Generation Z and Millennials is now being used to dismiss Baby Boomers thoughts and opinions which are sometimes viewed by the younger generation as paternalistic or just out of step. While many may find the term, “Ok, Boomer!” as a harmless way to point out generational differences, the phrase’s popularity could and will lead to problems in the workplace.

It is very clear that under the Age Discrimination In Employment Act, anyone over the age of 40 is in a protected status and, as such, has the right to raise a claim if they are mistreated due to their age. Whether a speaker believes they are well within their rights or are merely being cute and funny, a dismissive attitude about older workers can and will form the basis for a Claim for Discrimination and/or Harassment. In point of fact, the term “Ok, Boomer!” could be considered an outright slur!

The younger generation (Generation Z and Millennials Employees) must understand that derogatory or dismissive comments related to gender, race, religion, age, national origin, disability and sexual orientation are not only inappropriate and insulting, but can create legal liabilities for their Employer and possibly, for them as well. Given the heavy prevalence of Age Discrimination lawsuits that are arising, Employers, rather than being at the end of the line and solely a recipient, better start reminding their workforce about the improprieties of derogatory and dismissive comments to individuals over 40 and make sure their employees, whether Baby Boomers, Generation Z or Millennials leave the Generation Wars at the door. Just for the record, the author is 74 – any Generation Z or Millennial WANT TO COMMENT??

Questions? Contact attorney Walter J. Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at waliszka@wesselssherman.com.

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