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I am in my early 30's, can Age Discrimination be proven based on Perceived Age?

Los Angeles, CA |

My supervisor denied me promotion/raise because he prefers training/hiring only younger applicants between their late teens and 20's for a position...he points out that I am older calling me names like "old fart" "damaged good" "unavailable" or that he perceives me as "possibly reaching my 40's, 50's or 60's...a senior citizen"...He did not consider any applicant for a second interview/training/hiring/on-boarding unless the candidate(s) fall under specific criteria including age: younger, in their late teens or 20's, available. To add insult to injury, I, more skilled and experienced, am pressured to train chosen candidates, less skilled and inexperienced, who are offered higher pay with benefits. I am in my early 30's, do I have a case of Age Discrimination based on perceived Age?

Moreover, Age Discrimination intersects with Sex/Gender Discrimination in this case. Younger, female, whose marital status is single/available is considered for the position and treated more favorably with higher pay and benefits than someone like me because of my perceived age and sex/gender roles/assumptions associated with my perceived age. Even with less skill and experience, she is chosen over me, obviously more qualified, skilled and experienced!

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Attorney answers 3


Perceived age is not a protected class if your actual age is under forty years old. If you could establish that there is unfair treatment because of gender or or marital status, you might have a claim. Good luck to you.

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Your post is troubling in your reference to your assertion that, compared to the person selected, you are "more qualified, skilled and experienced." You should know that the law does not require the employer to pick the most qualified, skilled or experienced candidate. (Exception: public employment where the public entity employer has a stated policy of picking the "best qualified" and has defined the standards and criteria for "best qualified.") The law also does not define the criteria for most qualified. Skill and experience are not necessarily the criteria for that determination.

It is a widely misunderstood fact but employers can lawfully select the worst qualified, a brother-in-law who is functionally illiterate, or make the choice by random. The law only requires that prohibited characteristics such as race, religion, etc not be the basis for the selection.

It is lawful for the employer to require one employee to train another, notwithstanding inequities in their compensation, rank, experience, skill, etc.

You would have a heck of a burden to prove that your employer was making employment decisions on the basis of belief that you are ten - 30 years older than you are. But the issue won't be reached because you are not protected by the laws re age discrimination.

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Protection from age discrimination only applies to people who are actually at least 40 years old.