How Can Age Discrimination Affect Employment?

Updated: Jul 7

A Quick Guide To Age Discrimination In California Workplace

In the workplace, older people usually bring more experience, expertise, and competency. However, some firms discriminate against older job searchers and employees based on their age.


In addition, they sometimes make discriminatory and illegal judgments that unfairly penalize older workers, based on the incorrect belief that more senior employees have higher medical bills or may not stay in the company for the long term.


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Any action by an employer that exploits your physical age or years of experience against you is considered age discrimination. This can happen when you're seeking a job or when you're already working. This is unlawful in most circumstances. However, there are a few exceptions that we'll go through later.

A Los Angeles Employment Lawyer could assist you if you were fired or demoted because of your age. Both California law and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act make most forms of age discrimination illegal (ADEA).

Because age discrimination is difficult to show directly, courts frequently rely on circumstantial evidence to find it by examining all of the facts and comparing what occurred to you with what happened to younger workers.

Employers frequently excuse illegal activities on non-age-related issues such as business downsizing, personnel reductions, or reorganization. You may notice age discrimination if your employer takes adverse employment action against you because of your age, especially when compared to similarly situated but younger employees are handled differently and more positively.


Here are a few examples:

  1. Wrongful termination

  2. Demotion

  3. Barring a well-deserved promotion

  4. Unjustified negative reviews or performance scores

  5. Unjustified suspension

  6. Other retaliatory acts

If your boss has recently made comments about your age or has made employment decisions based solely on that, then you should consider contacting a Top Employment Lawyer in California help you fight for your rights.

Age Discrimination Laws at the Federal and State Level

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or potential employees based on their age under many federal and state regulations.


The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent age discrimination in the workplace.

Age discrimination begins at the age of 40 for federal purposes, but it may begin much earlier in real-life settings across the United States.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 60% of all workers over the age of 45 had either been the victim of or witnessed workplace age discrimination.


That said, this should give you an idea of which agencies you should approach when you're ready to file a claim. To make it easier for you, you should contact the best Employment Attorney in Los Angeles to help you through the lengthy process.

Employers Covered By Age Discrimination Laws In California


You must first work for an employer covered by the ADEA in order to prove your age discrimination case. Private employers with 20 or more employees that engage in interstate commerce are subject to the ADEA. In addition, the ADEA will apply to government employers.

If an employer matches these conditions and refuses to hire you, treats you differently in terms of compensation, employee benefits, or other employment issues, or terminates your employment because of your age, you'll have a strong case for age discrimination.


If you experienced discrimination in the workplace, consider checking if your employer qualifies for the requirements stated above. If it's unclear, consult with an Employment Law Attorney in Los Angles to help you sort out the specifics of your case.

What Is Considered Age Discrimination?


As with the basic definition of unlawful workplace discrimination, your employer cannot make any employment decisions based solely on your age (i.e., hiring, firing, demotions, etc.).

If you're at least 40 years old and work in a company with at least 20 workers in California, you're protected from age discrimination at work.

However, under the ADEA and state anti-discrimination rules, not everyone is eligible. Even if you work for a small company, you may face discrimination. You are also excluded from age discrimination laws if you work in a high policy-making position and receive a yearly pension of $44,000 or more.

It doesn't matter if your employer invites you to retire freely. If you do, you'll almost certainly be required to sign a release vowing not to sue for age discrimination. You are not required to retire freely. However, if you do so, your employer is likely to provide you with better benefits than if you waited until your typical retirement age.

If you're a victim of age discrimination in California, you should consider hiring one of our prescreened and experienced Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney. A lawyer can help you get through the process of filing your claim and holding your employer responsible for doing unlawful employment actions.

Can An Employer Refuse To Hire Me Because Of My Age?

Except for the restrictions outlined above, most firms cannot legally refuse to hire you because you are older. During a job interview, a prospective employer is not prohibited from inquiring about your age or date of birth. It's also not against the law for them to demand that you disclose it on an application.

It's also not illegal for them to inform you that you're "overqualified" for a job, even if you are. If you're competent for the work, though, an employer can't refuse to hire you because they're worried you'll retire or leave for another employment.

If you believe a potential employer has refused to hire you because of your age, speak with an age discrimination attorney. It's possible that you have a case.


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When Can Age Discrimination Be Justified?


Furthermore, ADEA and state legislation do not apply if you work in a job that demands young workers.


Some contract workers, such as tenured university professors, police officers, and firefighters, may have age-based discrimination clauses in their contracts.

Otherwise, if you weren't hired for a job that you otherwise would have been eligible to do, it can be a case of Age Discrimination in California. Contact an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to help you fight for your rights and hold your employer accountable.

What Can I Do If I'm Experiencing Age Discrimination in California?

Workers are protected from age discrimination in the workplace under federal and state legislation. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protect adults over the age of 40 from discriminatory hiring practices and job decisions based on their age.

The burden of proof falls on you in a discrimination case. This means that you and your Los Angles Employment Attorney's job is to show that your age or years of experience played a role in your termination or employment rejection. It's conceivable that you won't be able to do so unless you have documented statements or witness testimony from the employer.

The same goes for claims that you were fired or refused employment because of your age. Make sure your age discrimination lawyer is aware of any discriminatory comments they made right before your job termination. That could be beneficial to your case.


If only younger people suffered at the same time as you, you'd have a hard time trying to prove your case. It's easier to prove if older coworkers were also harmed, especially if all of the victims were over 40. This is especially true if the company kept or hired inexperienced or younger employees.

Our prescreened California Employment Lawyers can also look for a pattern of individual terminations or hiring refusals at the company based on age.


It's probable that the true purpose for a mass layoff was to get rid of the highest-paid, most experienced staff. Those are usually people in their fifties and sixties. The employer did it so that new hires would be paid less. However, the result was the same: older workers were discriminated against.

Can You Prove Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination can be demonstrated under two legal theories—disparate treatment theory and disparate effect theory.

Let's discuss how these can take shape in the workplace.

1. Theory of Disparate Treatment


A worker must prove that their employer knowingly discriminated against them based on their age under the disparate treatment argument. A victim must show the following in order to substantiate a disparate treatment theory:

  • The employee was at least 40 years old.

  • The employee is qualified to work in the role.

The employee was subjected to some type of adverse employment action, such as a reduction in pay, a demotion, a change in employment terms, a change in employee benefits, or termination.

The adverse employment action was taken based on factors that suggest discrimination, such as comments made during the adverse employment action or being replaced by a younger employee with less experience or training.

2. Theory of Disparate Impact


In contrast to the unequal treatment hypothesis, the disparate effect theory does not require that deliberate discrimination based on age happens directly from an employer. Rather, this legal doctrine requires a victim to show that the employer engages in some type of work behavior that is intrinsically harmful to older employees.


For example, if a company develops a screening test that, while theoretically neutral, somehow identifies older employees, the findings of this test could be used to determine layoffs or RIFs at a later date (reduction in force). A victim must show the following in order to substantiate a disparate treatment theory:

  • An employer's specific practice has a divergent impact on workers over the age of 40, whether for an individual worker or a group of workers.

  • On the surface, the employment practice appears to be neutral; yet, it raises the prospect of differential treatment and impact on older workers.

That said, when you experience any of these in the workplace, you should consider contacting a California Employment Attorney. Not only are they more knowledgeable about the law, but having them around can help you be more sure about the legal moves you'll take moving forward.

Other Examples Of Age Discrimination

In some circumstances, a worker is unsure if the actions taken against them are discriminatory because of their age. The following are some prevalent workplace signs of age discrimination.


Age discrimination could look like any of the following examples:

  • Verbal and physical harassment because of age

  • The employer only hires young people

  • Actively preventing you from opportunities that would get you a promotion

  • Consistently getting passed over for promotions, despite the fact that your work is excellent and superior to others'

  • Being excluded from meetings or feeling alienated at work

  • You have been transferred to a workplace location that's hard for you to get or is affecting your ability to do your job

  • You've been fired for no apparent or lawful reason

  • Even when your work is excellent, you begin to receive negative reviews and performance scores

However, some cases can be unique. And some discriminatory acts can not immediately be obvious. You should contact a California Employment Law Attorney to help you identify which parts of your case are grounds for an Age Discrimination Claim in California.


What Kinds of Evidence Do I Need to Prove Age Disc