Question: Our retail operation recently converted to a new computer-operated cash register system. One of our employees is an older lady. She is part of a generation that grew up without computers. Do we have to train her on the new system or can we just assign her other duties? If we assign her other duties, she will not be able to open or close the store on her own which means she cannot work the same shift she has been working the last few months.
Answer: Your company should train her on the new system. The worker’s ability to learn about and use the new system must be assessed in the same way other employees’ abilities and skills are assessed. While your company may legitimately consider the worker’s comfort and skills with the new cash register system when making assignments, the worker must be given a chance to show that she can adapt to using the new system.
Otherwise, your company may be in violation of the law. Making decisions that impact the terms and conditions of an employee’s work based on a stereotypical assumption because of a worker’s age is forbidden under federal and state laws.
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