Baby boomers are the second largest population group in the nation and, as of three years ago, 46.2 million boomers were 65 or older. Increased life expectancies and acute economic pressures are just some of the reasons that Americans are staying in the workforce past typical retirement age. Companies now face the challenge of concurrently managing four to five different generations, each with its own identifying characteristics and behaviors. While older workers have more institutional knowledge and certain unique skills and values, they also may have larger salaries and high overhead. For these and other reasons, age discrimination complaints brought before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and in the nation’s courts have skyrocketed in the recent past.

Just three months ago in Camden, New Jersey, a federal jury returned a multimillion dollar verdict that is speculated to be the largest jury award in a single-plaintiff age discrimination case, and five times the amount of prior awards across the country. In January 2017, plaintiff Robert Braden, a former senior project specialist in Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Systems and Sensors Unit at the defense contractor’s Moorestown, New Jersey, location, was given $520,000 for lost wages and benefits, an additional $520,000 for emotional distress, and nearly $50 million in punitive damages. The court order also entitles Braden to file a motion seeking to have Lockheed Martin pay his attorney fees. The jury reportedly deliberated for less than 45 minutes before fixing punitive damages at nearly $50 million based on a determination that the company acted in reckless disregard of discrimination laws. This award sends a clear message that employers cannot push out older workers to make way for new blood.