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How Can Age Discrimination Affect Employment?

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

A Quick Guide To Age Discrimination In California Workplace

Older people usually bring more experience, expertise, and competency to the workplace. 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 Age Discrimination 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 commented about your age or made employment decisions based solely on that, then you should consider contacting a discrimination lawyer to 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 have either been victims of or witnessed workplace age discrimination.

That said, this should give you an idea of which agencies to approach when you're ready to file a claim. To make it easier for you, you should contact the Los Angeles Age Discrimination Lawyer 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 to prove your age discrimination at work. 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 have experienced discrimination in the workplace, consider checking if your employer qualifies for the requirements stated above. If it's unclear, consult with an age discrimination attorney in Los Angeles 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, not everyone is eligible under the ADEA and state anti-discrimination rules. 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 Age Discrimination Lawyer. 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 above restrictions, 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, 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?

Under federal and state legislation, workers are protected from age discrimination in the workplace. 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 simultaneously as you, you'd have difficulty 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 keeps or hires 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.

The true purpose of a mass layoff was probably to eliminate 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 in California?

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

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

1. Theory of Disparate Treatment

Workers must prove that their employer knowingly discriminated against them based on their age under the disparate treatment argument. A victim must show the following 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 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 Los Angeles Age Discrimination Lawyer. 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 California

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, even though 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 Discrimination in California?

When it comes to discrimination claims in California, you need to have evidence. Remember, you need to have proof of the discrimination and how it affects your employment.

Here are a few types of evidence that you can collect on your own:

  1. Photos and Video. Notice the signs if you believe you are being discriminated against or retaliated against. Take pictures of your boss or HR ignoring coworkers who are discriminating against you, for example.

  2. However, you should proceed cautiously because acquiring this type of proof (i.e., filming another person) can exacerbate existing tensions (or, worse, disagreements), so proceed with prudence.

  3. Messages, chats, texts, etc. Your work emails, chat rooms, and SMS messages could all be evidence of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Keep any emails or conversations in which your boss or HR suggests you're being fired for illegal reasons.

  4. Papers, employment records, and other documents. Your employment documents can include pay stubs, time cards, and written notices. These documents could be used as evidence that your employer is retaliating against you (i.e., demotions, suspensions, and pay cuts).

These are extremely important to monitor if you've recently filed a Labor Law Claim with an agency.

While there is a lot of evidence you may acquire on your own, you may still run into problems if your workplace is already hostile or if you've been wrongfully terminated due to discrimination.

Hiring a discrimination attorney can assist you in making more complete inquiries into your issue.

How Much Is My Age Discrimination Claim Worth?

When submitting a claim for damages, your California Employment Law Attorney will assist you in estimating all damages, including non-economic ones. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your evidence, and the response from your employer, these damages might change.

The following factors are commonly considered when assessing the cost of a claim:

  1. Wages you lost due to discrimination. From the moment of termination, suspension, and demotion, the employee has lost all of his or her pay. Furthermore, if the employee was wrongfully terminated and could not secure new work through trial or settlement, future wage loss may be considered in some cases.

  2. Benefits you lost because of the discrimination. Loss of benefits is also taken into account when calculating lost wages. For example, employers may be held accountable for out-of-pocket payments if a terminated employee is forced to pay for insurance coverage after being fired.

  3. Emotional distress damages. The cost of emotional anguish resulting from harassment, discrimination, and retaliation might be considered part of the settlement. When the claimed behaviors were exceptionally heinous, such as charges of harassment or discrimination, recovery for emotional distress damages is most likely.

An age discrimination attorney in Los Angeles can argue for your interests. This is especially important for emotional distress and other non-economic damages, considered 'intangible'. Your age discrimination lawyer needs to be able to justify the damages you demand.

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In addition to the monetary value of an employment discrimination claim complaint, various factors may influence settlements. For example, many workers file claims to collect lost income and see justice or personal retribution.

Workers who were fired as a result of discrimination or retribution may feel vindicated and relieved if a satisfactory settlement is reached. Some, on the other hand, seek changes in business policy in addition to monetary damages in order to prevent future wrongdoings.

Employers that claim they have done nothing wrong may also strive to postpone settling to avoid future litigation. On the other hand, employers whose legal bills are paid by their insurance may be more motivated to pursue such conflicts.

What If You Get Fired Because Of Your Age?

An employer may not fire or terminate an employee for criminal grounds in California. These reasons could be discriminatory (firing an employee for being a member of a protected group or having protected traits) or retaliatory (firing an employee for following the law or telling an employer or coworker to related agencies).

Even though the employee is designated as "at-will," they may be eligible for Wrongful Termination if their situation meets the criteria.

Some of these acts are illegal, while others require the employer to compensate the fired employee for lost wages and other expenditures.

Furthermore, in some California wrongful termination cases, the company may be forced to pay punitive damages to the fired employee. Others, on the other hand, may result in the wrongdoer being held accountable for damages caused by several offenders.

What is the California Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Claims?

Individuals must file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within one year of the most recent discriminatory act.

If you were dismissed, it was most likely the most recent instance of discrimination. Once you file a charge with the DFEH or the EEOC, the statute of limitations is tolled. This means that the statute of limitations will not run out while the government investigates your claim.

What If Your Boss Tries To Get Back At You For Filing Complaints?

It is illegal for an employer to punish an employee for doing the right thing by reporting harassment, discrimination, or public policy infractions. This is considered an act of retaliation.

Consult the age discrimination attorney in Los Angeles right away if you've been the victim of retaliation from your boss.

Retaliation is a series of negative acts to punish or criticize an employee for engaging in protected activity. These activities could be one of the following:

  • Take part in legal proceedings (such as becoming a witness for a lawsuit, or participating in the investigation process, etc.)

  • You asserted your legal rights as a California employee (such as refusing to lie to an auditor to cover up illegal activity, filing a complaint against your employer, reporting harassment to HR, etc.)

To prove retaliation, you must establish that you submitted a discrimination complaint, that you were treated unfairly, and that the adverse employment action was related to your complaint filing.

The complaint does not have to be in writing to be considered a protected action. After filing a report, you must notify your boss or HR as quickly as possible.

Getting advice on your statements' importance is usually a smart idea. If you can show that the discriminatory instances you're referring to are, in fact, prohibited under the law, that will help.

If you engage in the following protected practices, your employer cannot fire you or discriminate against you:

  • Witnessing in a lawsuit or filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

  • After being subjected to discrimination or harassment, you hired a Los Angeles employment attorney to help you with your case.

  • Reporting workplace discrimination or harassment to your boss.

  • During an investigation of an employment claim, you willingly participated and gave your accounts as witness statements.

  • Refusing to comply with demands that would lead to illegal activity.

  • Refusing unwelcome approaches or sexual advances from a coworker.

  • Requesting reasonable accommodations and considerations because of permanent or temporary disability

  • Seeking compensation information from supervisors or colleagues to uncover wage disparities

It's vital to highlight that anyone participating in the complaint process is protected from all forms of workplace harassment and retaliation. Other acts that oppose workplace discrimination are legal as long as the worker did so because he or she believed California labor laws were being broken.

On the other hand, participating in protected practices does not automatically shield employees from disciplinary action or dismissal. If non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory considerations drive the unfavorable action, employers should punish or even dismiss employees.

When it comes to workplace discrimination, employee retaliation, and wrongful termination, these cases need a lot of organized strategy and understanding of the law. Hiring an age discrimination attorney in Los Angeles will ease the difficulties you are already experiencing in the workplace. is a California Bar Association-Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a prescreened age discrimination attorney best fit to handle your claims. Contact us on our 24/7 lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999 or complete our inquiry submission form for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

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