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Hostile Work Environment Definition

The 12 Steps of “Restructuring” Jobs to Eliminate Older Workers

A bully boss will go to great lengths to terminate an employee they no longer want.  Frequently age discrimination, a kind of senior-employee-phobia, is the root cause. As both a defense lawyer advising companies, and in my role as the Undercover Lawyer advising individuals, I’ve witnessed the following pattern many times:

1.)  First Time Supervisor is in his/her 30’s and nervous about being in charge of other employees

2.)  First Time Supervisor is intimidated and scared of employees who are in their 50’s and 60’s, but doesn’t want anyone to know it

3.)  Employees in their 50’s and 60’s get micro-managed and nit picked by the First Time Supervisor over minuscule issues, which are the only issues the First Time Supervisor understands

4.)  Older Employees get sick of being nattered at about non-essential aspects of their jobs

5.)  The Older Employees voice their concerns about First Time Supervisor to higher management, exposing gaping holes in the First Time Supervisor’s job knowledge

6.)  First Time Supervisor reacts angrily, and starts “writing up” the Older Employees for minuscule mistakes in non-essential areas of their jobs

7.)  HR informs the First Time Supervisor that the Senior Employees have too many years of good appraisals to fire them right away for job performance

8.)  HR and First Time Supervisor decide to “re-engineer the department” and “flatten the structure” (which means eliminating 2 senior level jobs occupied by older employees)

9.)  To discourage the Older Employees from applying for one of the three so-called “new” jobs, the three new jobs pay far less than the two eliminated positions

10.)  The pay range of the three new positions are perfectly acceptable to young employees in their 20’s who have roommates to help pay rent and no families to support

11.)  This change is reported to the Press and the Government as “utilizing efficiencies for the net creation of one job”

12.)  Bullies in other organizati0ns point to “jobs creation” like this as proof that “if you don’t like it here you can just quit and find a position with another company”

Take a look at the video below, then let me know in the comments section if you have seen or experienced this pattern in your own work life.


If your story sounds at all similar, be sure to get my FREE “7-Secrets of Work Law” e-mail course. Learn how to fight back against a bully boss.

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  1. I have been an adult protection investigator. I had this position in California before coming to my present State. I was doing my job here for about 2 to 2 and a half years when a new director was put in place. He had been the computer guy, but since he was just finishing his MBA, he was put in charge of the ‘aging’ department as a director. All hell brock loose from that time on. He put a temporary supervisor in place also. One of the comments from the supervisor to me was “well, you know, as we get older, sometimes we need to start thinking of passing the baton to the younger folks”. It went downhill from there.
    Interestingly, I have since been terminated, and replaced by two AP workers that are half my age and do not have the qualifications for the job. I was terminated at age 59.

  2. I’ve been in this job for 13 years, and have always gotten great evaluations until this year. The supervisor (she’s only been here a year and a half) gave me below-average ratings on every single point “due to your absence rate.” I have chronic migraines and am out at least 3 days a month for 1-3 hours. I always have adequate sick time, but she objects just to the absences. Again, I’ve been here 13 years – and temped for a year before that. The agency was aware of this condition before they hired me on as a permanent staffmember.
    The eval acknowledges that I do a good job and get my work done – but then downgrades me because of the absences. Nowhere does she mention that they are medically necessary, either.
    Meetings with HR are a waste. I am not allowed, per state policy, to take a witness or even an attorney in with me, which is frightening. They can claim I did or said anything in the “counseling sessions” and I can’t refute it. They interrupt me when I speak or start talking among themselves, even if I’m answering a question they asked.
    The meetings are attended by the HR director, the division director, and my supervisor. My supervisor and the director have files they riffle through during the meeting. I don’t know what these are, but they are not my personnel file. They refuse to tell me what those are, or what is in them.
    The division director, by the way, has been here for 3 months and I have had no contact with her at all. I don’t see how she can make a judgement about anything I do, or where she’d get this file-full of whatever.
    I filed a complaint with EEOC but they said the agency can raise the issue of absences. Even though they admit I get my job done, and although the absences are of short duration (just long enough for me to recover enough to be able to drive to work)? My doctor verified that this is a fact of this condition.
    I cannot afford an attorney. Not sure what to do. I hate to be bullied out of a job I’ve performed well for 13 years just because a supervisor wants to open the position to someone of her choosing (which is what I think is happening).

  3. I am an older worker who was recently hired by a non profit organization to work as a program manager for a federally funded program. My coworkers are all in their 50s and 60s and our boss micro manages each and every one of us. There is not an email or letter that does not need her review before it gets sent out with multiple corrections she wants done. I have 7 employees underneath of me but am not allowed to make any decisions for them or on their behalf. One of these employees is a long time friend of my boss and goes above my head to get what she wants. She is also the office snitch and reports on every little thing everybody else does, me included, to our boss. Our boss takes her word to be gold and grants her every wish. We are not allowed to speak up in meetings, especially not in board or committee meetings. The division I work in has had 100% turnover in the last 2 years, yet HR does not seem to do anything about it, mst likely because my boss is a powerful individual and is well connected politically. Instead of motivating she chastises. I am on probation for 9 months and have the feeling she will let me go because she senses that I am not going to submit to her intimidating tactics (every one else is deathly afraid of her and walks on eggshells). What can I do to protect myself? I come to work early, leave late, do my job, am knowledgeable, honest, have never missed work, do everything she asks (which is never good enough) but the work environment is getting to me. I am looking elsewhere but times are tough. Any advice on how to protect my rights and fight back legally would be appreciated.

  4. annekarina53 says:

    I work in a private club, like a country club sort of. Member retention is stressed as it is getting difficult to retain member when you “give” away expensive memberships for $100 and then expect these people to stay when they find out what things really cost. Anyway, after working here for more than 5 years, I finally got a “Pre” eval. The employment attorney I consulted didn’t know what that was except to say probably a set up for firing. A nit picking session giving me impossible objectives to reach, then when they are not reached, having the reason to separate me from their employ and leaving me without being able to collect “unemployment.” The club went thru a management change about 2 years ago. Then the older assistant manager and accounting and HR depts went first. A new assistant manager, though old, was given the job. She was already in employ there. Then an outside accounting firm was brought in to do the payroll and pay bills. We are not sure who does HR if anyone. I am an older worker, not old enough for retirement, but old enough to get rid of. I have a job where I make a lousy wage, and have never had a raise. Of course during this so called pre eval, I was told if I improved my attitude and acted like a team player I might get a raise someday. Sorry, I am not one of Pavlov’s dogs, that will salivate at the sound of a bell, hoping someone might give me a dime on the dollar. I am not a younster that they can frighten. And I am tired. I see this formula. I hear what they tell me and I saw the assistant manager bristle when I told her for all she told me I was doing wrong, I had letters from members that said opposite. I told her to stay objective as she was not presenting me with proof so I could not agree with what she was saying. That made her angry. She tried to put that on me. I told her it was subjective without proof and needed to be objective. She told me she had three things she could write me up on but didn’t. Like writing me up would scare me? I know how to run my own business. It is just easier to work for someone else, or maybe it isn’t. She didn’t write me up which makes me wonder, did she not do it because what she had was just twisted to what she wanted to use to scare me and really didn’t exist in reality? This is a small company and I suspect just hanging on financially. If even that. I am sure they have complaints from members about me. They always do. The members are like children. If they can complain, they will. It doesn’t matter. They can’t be kept happy – not all of them. I have to put some of that out of my mind and do the best I can. If I was 25 years younger this might be easier, if I wasn’t using the health care the company supplies, it might be easier. But all of this just makes it more difficult to do my job because I don’t take bait. You give me ultimatives, I will turn on you. And it will not be pretty. Especially when I know I have already given you your chance by putting your interests first.

  5. I’m in my early 40’s and this is already happening to me. I empathize with Kitten as I too have chronic Migraines that occasionally cause me to miss work. In the past year I have been given a completely new job title and NO training. I have managed to train myself for the most part but am still having issues. When I went to HR after I was told I was being written up and wouldn’t get a bonus or a raise. I talked to the HR person about having no training and her exact quote was, “What does training have to do with it?” Gaah!
    I have always received a bonus and with the exception of my absences due to illness have not had bad performance reviews. I’m not sure if an eeo complaint is the way to go or a lawyer but I do know that I have reached the breaking point with these people. After 14 1/2 years of service and hard work this is the treatment and lack of respect I get.
    As a side note, working for the government has some perks. One of them is when you reach 15 years with our organization you are eligible to purchase health care from them no matter where you work. It’s not the first time I have seen someone close to 15 being harassed this way. Just this time it’s me.
    Any advice or suggestions is welcome!

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