Why Does Age Discrimination Only Apply to Ages 40 & Up?

Why Does Age Discrimination Only Apply to Ages 40 & Up?
Aug 03, 2022

Age discrimination is unfortunately all too common in the workplace. Though it is unlawful, many employers discriminate against employees based on age. This can take many forms, such as refusing to hire someone because they are “too old.” Age discrimination can also manifest itself in more subtle ways, such as not promoting an older employee because the employer believes they are “too set in their ways.” or not giving a young employee challenging assignments because the employer thinks they “lack experience.”

However, many people don’t know that age discrimination laws only protect employees over 40.

California Age Discrimination Laws
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination based on age. The FEHA applies to employers with five or more employees, including state and local government entities.

The FEHA defines age discrimination as employment practices that discriminate against a person 40 years or older because of their age. However, because the FEHA does not protect employees under the age of 40, a younger employee in California facing workplace discrimination may not have any legal recourse.

This is because age discrimination is most prevalent among older workers, which are often replaced by younger individuals in the workplace. For this reason, state laws specifically protect workers from retaliation or discrimination only if they are over the age of 40.

Forms of Workplace Discrimination
If an employment practice disproportionately impacts workers over 40, it may still be considered age discrimination even if it doesn’t explicitly discriminate against them. For example, let’s say an employer has a policy of only hiring employees who are under the age of 30. This policy disproportionately impacts workers over 40 and could therefore be considered age discrimination.

What If I am Being Discriminated Against for Being “Too Young?”
Unfortunately, state and federal laws do not protect employees under 40 from age discrimination. However, the FEHA also prohibits employment discrimination based on other protected characteristics, such as race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, ancestry, marital status, disability, genetic information, or military and veteran status. So, if you’re a California employee under the age of 40 who is facing workplace discrimination based on any of these protected characteristics, you may have a claim under the FEHA on grounds other than your age.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of age discrimination or any other form of workplace discrimination, you should contact our experienced employment attorneys to discuss your case. Hennig Kramer Ruiz & Singh, LLP is an employment law firm representing employees who have been the victims of workplace discrimination.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of age discrimination or any other form of workplace discrimination, contact us today at (213) 310-8301 for a consultation!

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