HR Administration

Target (Inadvertently) Teaches the Importance of Avoiding Age-Based Stereotypes

By Jon Hyman

Feb. 18, 2015

I do a lot of speaking. One speech that I’ve been giving over the past couple of years is entitled, “X+Y+Z = A Generational Mess for Your Workplace.” I teach how employers can best manage the diverse needs and abilities of four different generations of employees. I discuss some broad-based generalizations about Traditionalists (age 70+), Baby Boomers (50-69), Gen X (35-49), and Gen Y (under 35). I always finish by discussing the very real risk of age discrimination if you treat these generalizations as gospel, and do not treat each employee, of age any, as an individual, with individual talents and abilities.

Target saw the need to offer the same type of training to its managers, but it left off the part about age discrimination. Gawker (h/t Business Management Daily) published Target’s training materials, entitled, Managing Generational Differences,” which, among other things, describe its oldest workers as “slow to adapt to change,” “rarely question[ing] authority” and see[ing] technology as “complex and challenging.”

When you are sued for discrimination, your training materials are fair game in litigation. While you write them to aid your employees, you must do so with (at least) one eye on the jury that will read them during trial. You do not want to have your manager explain to a jury, in an age discrimination case, if he thought the plaintiff was “slow to adapt to change” when he made the termination decision.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

HR Administration

Policy management: What is it and what does it look like for HR?

Summary Policy management involves the creation and maintenance of administrative procedures and guidel...

hr policy, policy automation, policy management

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

HR Administration

Rest and lunch break laws in every US state

Summary Federal law does not require meal or rest breaks Some states have laws requiring meal and rest ...