While age discrimination is illegal via both California and federal law, it is unfortunately all too common among workers older than 40.
Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers can’t:
- Fail to hire a candidate because of age or include age preference, limitations or specification in job search
- Fire an employee because of age or targeting older employees for layoffs
- Turn down an employee for a promotion or discouraging older employees to apply for training programs because of age
- Insult or remark about an employee’s age
- Issue a negative job evaluation or demote an employee because of age-related issues
Under the ADEA and FEHA, employees suffering from age discrimination can sue to recover lost wages, benefits and emotional injuries.
The ADEA was enacted in 1967 and applies to companies with at least 20 employees. The FEHA is similar to the ADEA but includes any company with at least five employees.
Before you sue, you must file a discrimination charge against the employer with either the state or federal agency. Once the agency has finished an investigation, they may issue a “right to sue” letter, which allows you to file a lawsuit.
In 1990, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act amended the ADEA to stop employers from denying benefits to older workers. The law allows employers to modify benefits under special circumstances.
Research recently conducted by ProPublica and the Urban Institute found that those workers between ages 50 and 65 who experienced employer-driven job loss:
- 28 percent were laid off
- 15 percent left due to deteriorating conditions
- 13 percent experienced unexpected retirement
In 1997 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said 15,785 reports of age discrimination were filed. In 2016, that number was 20,857. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that at least 20 percent of U.S. workers are age 55 and older.
If you or a loved one is the victim of age discrimination, it’s important for you to talk to an experienced, qualified attorney to guide you through the legal paperwork and give you sound advice.