The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provide workers with important protections against job-related age discrimination.
Nonetheless, age discrimination in the workplace remains a serious problem in California.
According to the most recent data from the AARP, approximately two-thirds of workers over the age of 45 report that they have experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace.
Older workers should be aware of some of the most common signs of age discrimination.
Not only can age discrimination come in a wide range of different forms, but it is often insidious and may be challenging to prove. You may not even be entirely certain whether you were the victim of age-based discrimination.
Here, our Los Angeles age discrimination lawyers highlight some of the most common age discrimination in the workplace examples in California.
Workplace Rights: Six Examples of Age Discrimination
1. Disproportionate Hiring of Younger Employees
Employers should not make hiring decisions based solely on the age of the applicants. Each job candidate should be assessed based on their specific qualifications — not on general assumptions about their skills or their fitness for the position.
When companies demonstrate a pattern of strongly preferring younger employees in hiring, it could be evidence of possible age-based discrimination.
It is important to remember that, with a few glaring exceptions, employers generally attempt to conceal discriminatory hiring practices. In most cases, managers will not openly say that a candidate is being rejected solely because of their age. More likely, other pretextual reasons will be offered.
One of the terms that older workers should watch out for is “overqualified.” Sometimes, that term can be taken as a signal that an employer is actually using prohibited and discriminatory practices.
2. Little Opportunity for Advancement for Older Workers
In some cases, companies hire older workers, but they do not offer them any real opportunities to advance within their field. Indeed, one of the most common challenges that older workers report facing in modern workplaces is getting a fair shot at a promotion.
If a Los Angeles, CA-based employer passes up an older worker for a promotion in favor of a less qualified, younger candidate, that could be an example age discrimination.
No matter your age, you deserve a fair shot at advancing within your company. Older workers should always be judged on their qualifications, not their age.
3. The Targeting of Older Workers in Layoffs/Staff Reductions
It is unlawful for many California employers to use age as a factor in layoffs and staff reduction. These employers must not disproportionately target older workers when reducing or restructuring their workforce.
Unfortunately, employers may violate these rules as part of a strategy to save on labor costs — targeting older workers in an effort to pay out less in salaries and employee benefits.
It should be noted that the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) is a federal law that explicitly prevents age discrimination in staff reductions, corporate restructurings, and in the offering of employee benefits.
4. Isolation of Older Employees
The culture at a firm matters. In some cases, older employees report that they feel isolated within their organization.
Most often, this is reported as being an issue in situations in which the employees at a company are disproportionately young when compared to the overall workforce.
Isolation of older workers can have serious ramifications. Among other things, it could lead to an older worker feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable.
In addition, it could also result in older workers being denied a fair opportunity to network and make important professional connections within the industry or within the company.
Isolation is another factor that can make it more difficult for older workers to get a fair shot at a promotion.
In the worst cases, isolation of an employee can rise to the level of discrimination. As this is a complicated issue, affected workers should not hesitate to speak to an experienced employment discrimination lawyer.
5. Age-Based Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment can occur in a number of different ways.
If an employer, a supervisor, or co-workers make an older employee feel unwelcome — whether because of jokes, taunting, or any other type of age-related harassment — it could rise to the level of a hostile work environment.
The excuse that hurtful comments are “just jokes” is not a valid one under the law.
In the worst cases, this type of environment will all but force an older worker to quit their position. If you were subjected to a hostile work environment, you may have been the victim of unlawful workplace age discrimination.
6. Unfair or Unreasonable Disciplinary Action
Finally, employers often attempt to cover up discriminatory actions by falsely accusing employees of misconduct or poor performance.
This is called “pretext.” Indeed, most large companies are aware of the fact that age discrimination is a prohibited labor practice in California.
Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean that these employers will refrain from discriminatory conduct. Instead, it sometimes means that they will just make an effort to cover up age discrimination with other reasons.
A California employer who wants to remove an older worker may start to take disciplinary action against them or they may suddenly start complaining about their performance.
If you are an older worker and believe that you are facing unfair or unreasonable disciplinary action or illegitimate performance reviews, that could be a sign that your employer is setting the foundation to take further action against you — potentially even removing you from the company.
You should be ready to call an experienced age discrimination lawyer right away. Always be proactive in protecting your workplace rights.
Get Assistance From Our Los Angeles, CA Age Discrimination Lawyers Today
At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our California employment law attorneys have deep experience handling the full range of age discrimination claims.
We are passionate advocates for workers. If you or your loved one was a victim of age discrimination, please contact our legal team today for a free consultation.
With an office in Los Angeles, we represent employees throughout the region, including in Long Beach, Compton, Beverly Hills, Anaheim, and Pasadena.