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California Age Discrimination Laws: Common Questions

Do you feel like you have been discriminated against at work due to your age? If so, you're not alone. Recent employment discrimination charge statistics show that age discrimination in the workplace is on the rise. In 2014, 1,569 age discrimination complaints were filed with the EEOC in California alone, and nearly 21,000 were filed across the United States in 2015.

But what is age discrimination exactly, and how do you know if you should file an age discrimination complaint? This article will answer common questions about California age discrimination laws to help you better understand your employee rights.

Common Questions About Age Discrimination in the California Workplace

Is it illegal to discriminate based on age?

You may be surprised to know that sometimes, it is not illegal for an employer to discriminate based on age. In fact, federal and California employment laws only forbid age discrimination against individuals who are 40 years of age or older. This means that if you are under the age of 40, most age discrimination protections don't apply to you.

While some states have enacted employment laws that protect those who are younger from age discrimination in the workplace, California is not one of them. It should also be noted that it is not necessarily illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older employee over a younger one, even if both workers are 40 or older.

What is the ADEA?

The ADEA stands for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It is a federal law that governs age discrimination. Enacted in 1967, the ADEA promotes the employment of older workers based on abilities and skills rather than age. It also prevents age discrimination in the workplace, plus helps solve the problems that arise with an aging workforce.

More specifically, the ADEA makes it unlawful for employers to refuse to hire or fire individuals with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment due to age.

California age discrimination laws take federal ADEA protections further with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These broader protections apply to smaller employers (businesses with at least five employees).

How do you prove age discrimination in the workplace?

Generally, under the ADEA, an employee or job applicant must provide proof that age discrimination occurred. To prove age discrimination in the workplace, you must be able to show that you are:

  1. 40 years old or older,
  2. you were adversely affected by an employment action, and
  3. your employer took such an action because of your age.

You generally must also be able to show an actual employment action, and that age was a motivating factor.

If you feel you've been discriminated against due to your age in violation of California or federal employment laws, you should contact an employment attorney who understands these laws and the time constraints that pertain to filing a claim. From there, he or she can file an age discrimination charge with the correct agency; be it the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What are signs of age discrimination in the workplace?

If you are aged 40 or older and are being subjected to any of the following negative employer behaviors due to your age, seek assistance from an experienced California employment lawyer:

  • An employer refused to hire you.
  • You have been verbally abused by your employer.
  • You have been publicly shamed by your employer.
  • You have been cyber-bullied by your employer, coworkers or supervisor.
  • You have been threatened at work.
  • You were turned down for a promotion.
  • You have been denied ongoing training.
  • You have been demoted.
  • Before you were demoted or terminated, your employer referred to you with ageist terms.
  • When layoffs were announced, you and other older workers were laid off while younger workers kept their jobs.
  • You have been terminated.

California Age Discrimination Laws: Additional Information

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) via EEOC.gov
  • Age Discrimination in the California Workplace: What You Need to Know
  • Age Discrimination in the Workplace: 8 Facts for Employees - Infographic
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
  • Examples of Age Discrimination in California: Real-Life Cases

If you feel your employer is violating California age discrimination laws, contact the expert employment law attorneys at Hennig Ruiz and let us help you build your case today.

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