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Is saying “OK, Boomer” legal in the workplace?

| Nov 27, 2019 | Areas of Practice |

Top Rated Employment Attorney looks at the phrase “OK, Boomer” to see if it attacks a protected class.

There are always going to be “funny sayings” that go viral and then make themselves into the workplace. Recently, there is a new “funny saying” that has blown up- from memes on Facebook, Twitter, and even the evening news. “OK, Boomer” seems to have become an overnight sensation. The concept of the phrase “Ok Boomer” started with many younger Americans posting images on the web. Most of these younger Americans were in the 16-25-year-old bracket. These Americans feel that older generations had better incomes, opportunities, and never shared them. Hence, “Ok Boomer” was born.

Reactions from the public seem to be mixed. If you search the term “Ok Boomer” on Google, you can see that there are ads to popular websites like Tik-Tok and graphic T-Shirt shops. This shows that the cultural impact is huge. Psychology Today points out that there are huge drawbacks, including negative stereotypes, marginalization, and discrimination.

Some have even compared the phrase “Ok Boomer‘ to slurs tied to race and national origin.

So we want to answer the question: Is saying “OK, Boomer” legal in the workplace?

The short answer: Maybe, it just depends on how the phrase is used.

The Long Answer: In Ohio, according to Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) people over the age of 40 belong to a protected class.

This means that they are protected from being discriminated against because of their age. It’s illegal to treat an employee differently than other employees just because they are over the age of 40.

Age discrimination can take many different forms, including harsher judgment, unfair treatment, derogatory terms in the workplace. The Spitz Law Firm has handled age discrimination cases against employers in Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Columbus, and Cincinnati areas- plus many more small, close-knit neighborhoods.

If you’re an employee in Ohio, and the phrase, “Ok boomer” has suddenly become a popular saying in your work place, it’s possible that you are being discriminated against. (See Can I Sue For Age Discrimination? – Call The Right Attorney; Can My Job Change Rules Against Older Workers?; I Wasn’t Promoted Because I’m Older! – Call The Right Attorney; and Can My Employer Change Company Policy To Force Out Older Employees? I Need The Top Age Discrimination Attorney In Ohio!)

Age discrimination is not a joke. Online, phrases like “OK boomer” are thriving, however, that does not mean you are forced to deal with people poking fun at your age. Age Discrimination occurs when you start to notice you are being treated differently than others because of your age. There’s a difference between an online meme, and a co-worker using the phrase, “OK boomer” with malicious intent in the workplace.

Here are some common examples of Age Discrimination. If you find yourself saying or thinking something like what is listed below, you could have age discrimination claim for damages. These include:

  1. I was fired because I’m older
  2. I wasn’t given a promotion, but my younger coworker was.
  3. My boss keeps talking to me about retirement.
  4. My job makes employment decisions based on age.
  5. My Job Fired Older Employees First.
  6. My boss pays younger employees with less skill and less experience more than older employees.
  7. My Employer does not train me like they train younger employees.
  8. I want to sue for employment Discrimination.
  9. My employer wants to hire employees that look younger, and hide older employees from seeing clients, customers, and patients.

While “OK Boomer” may seem harmless to those who are younger, it can have very real effects in the workplace. Employers and employees using divisive, harassing, and discriminating phrases like “OK boomer” to justify their harassing behavior may be breaking the law. If you have seen this behavior for yourself, or others, feel free to reach out for a free initial consultation at the Spitz Law Firm.