Written by attorney Mary-Alice Coleman

Age Discrimination in the Workplace in California

What is age discrimination?

Are younger and less qualified workers getting promoted before you? Are you singled out by remarks, jokes or criticisms because of your age? Have you been laid off only to have your old job taken by a younger, and lower paid employee? If you are an individual over 40 years of age and something like this has occurred you may be the victim of age discrimination in the workplace.

Ageism, more commonly referred to as age discrimination, is the stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. Although federal and California state laws prohibit discrimination against individuals because of their age, there are still employers who use discriminatory practices against older workers and job seekers. Proving age discrimination is not easy. Any legitimate claim of age discrimination means proving the reason for the adverse employment action taken against the worker or applicant (termination, demotion, suspension, etc.) was due to that person’s age.

What should I do if I feel I have been the victim of age discrimination?

  1. Know the facts and your rights.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. Since 1978 the ADEA has also prohibited mandatory retirement in most sectors. Your age cannot be cause for discrimination in regards to hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, benefits or job assignments.

  1. Keep good records.

If you feel you are being victimized at work because of your age, make sure to carefully document specific events, conversations, names of people involved, dates, times and places. You cannot bring a case against an employer without having tangible proof of impropriety or discrimination.

  1. Consult an experienced employment rights attorney.

If you have tried but cannot resolve the issue with your boss or manager at work, you will want to consult with a labor attorney whose sole focus is protecting and litigating for employees in the work force. Victims of age discrimination are more likely to prevail against an employer if a lawyer is able to assist throughout the filing, mediation or court process.

Note:Age discrimination may be illegal under California and Federal law, but each case is different and beyond the scope of the information presented in this document. You should in no way rely on the statements in this document without consulting an attorney, who will consider whether and how the law applies to any given situation.

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