A Recap of the Workforce Planning & Compliance Webinar for Certified Age-Friendly Employers

On June 5th, 55 CAFE network members attended our second 2024 Employer Virtual Workshop series #4 focused on Workforce Planning and Compliance.  We had an Introductory presentation from Tim Driver followed by our special guest, Lisa Damon, a Partner and recognized employment litigator and counselor with Seyfarth.  Seyfarth operates a worldwide industry-leading Employment Advisory practice that works with companies of all sizes on their holistic talent strategies, in the entire work lifecycle—from acquisition to management to separation of workers. Here is a summary of her presentation:

Lisa Damon, a partner in labor and employment at Seyfarth, delivered a speech focusing on age discrimination in the workplace. She emphasized the complexities of age bias, its legal implications, and the importance of compliance for employers. Damon discussed how federal law in the U.S. protects individuals over 40 from age discrimination, with state laws offering varying levels of protection based on the state. She highlighted the different forms of age discrimination, including disparate treatment and disparate impact, and explained the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, which mandates specific conditions for waivers of age claims in severance agreements.

Damon noted a recent increase in age discrimination claims, attributing this to greater awareness among older workers about their rights and the growing number of older employees in the workforce. She also pointed out the persistence of stereotypes and assumptions about older workers, such as their technological ineptitude, which can lead to legal actions based on discriminatory comments or jokes. Employers were advised to include age discrimination in their harassment and discrimination training and to maintain clear reporting and conduct policies to prevent age-related harassment and retaliation.

Damon concluded by stressing the significance of handling discussions about retirement carefully, suggesting a focus on succession planning without directly inquiring about an employee’s retirement plans. She responded to questions about the increase in age claims, noting that it is not limited to a specific industry, and reassured that age discrimination protections are likely to remain robust despite broader trends and potential backlash against diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Following our guest speaker, we introduced our own panel of CAFE member experts:

  • Chantelle Johnson, AVP Workforce & Culture Enterprise Inclusion & Diversity at Humana, Inc. (Insurance)
  • Jessica Crosby, Director of Talent Management for the State of Maine Bureau of Human Resources (State government)
  • Jennifer Frasier, Chief Inclusion, Diversity and Wellbeing Officer at FIS Global (finance/technology)

The combined subject matter expertise of this panel exceeded 50 years as they answered timely questions focused on programs they had developed to avoid age discrimination in all areas of performance conversations, career opportunities and workplace bias. The panel questions were as follows:

  1. What strategies or programs do you have in place to foster equity and inclusion for older workers within the succession planning process or where key positions come open?
  2. Could you share examples of successful initiatives or case studies where older workers were actively involved in succession planning and advancement within your organization?
  3. How do you ensure that older workers have access to growth opportunities and career advancement paths within your organization, especially in roles traditionally associated with younger talent?
  4. What steps do you take to promote intergenerational collaboration and knowledge transfer?


Each described unique programs they had developed to meet their later career workers’ needs for flexibility and job mobility in the workplace. One panelist mentioned they had removed “age requirements” from their programs such as “early career” and “succession planning” to reduce age discrimination.  Another panelist outlined a program to address knowledge transfer as a large percentage of their population was aging out of the workplace. Another panelist discussed adding new roles to accommodate more hybrid work and part-time roles.


All panelists agreed that older workers had less absenteeism and higher workplace engagement.  This population was a valuable asset to all three companies. The main action items for companies to be aware of are:

  1. Know the laws surrounding age protection in your country, state or region.
  2. Avoid initiating conversations around retirement plans unless the employee initiates. A better approach is to ask “where do you see your career in 1, 3 or 5 years?”
  3. Consider providing internal training on age discrimination issues to prevent stereotypes and assumptions
  4. Develop universal succession planning criteria and have discussions around future plans as part of the process, while avoiding any mention of retirement


The session was attended by 57 employers representing 32+ organizations. The session was so impactful that we decided to provide you this summary in hopes you will find some nuggets of value and also prepare to attend our future sessions.


What is the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)?

Full access to the Act can be found HERE.  It was enacted in 1967 to ensure older workers were not forced from the workplace based solely on age. It was set up to guide employers on best practices to avoid workplace age discrimination but does not hold the same weight as other protected classes. There are some exceptions such as smaller companies  (<20 employees) and companies who provide additional pensions to executive employees.

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