How to Prove Age Discrimination

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal  Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) afford many employees in Los Angeles important protections against age discrimination in the workplace. Sadly, age discrimination still occurs far too often. 

Despite these protections, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that nearly 70 percent of older workers witness or experience age discrimination in their workplace. 

At the same time, the EEOC found that only 3 percent of older workers file formal age discrimination complaints.

Aged workers are hesitant to take legal action because they fear that they will not be able to prove that age discrimination occurred. 

Challenges exist in how to prove age discrimination — but taking important steps can protect your rights. In this article, our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys explain how to win an age discrimination lawsuit in California.

Understanding Age Discrimination at Work

Age discrimination (ageism) occurs when employees are subject to stereotypes, harassment, or other adverse actions based on their age.

Age discrimination can take many forms. For example, a superior, colleague, client, or customer making a derogatory or offensive comment about an employee’s age may constitute age discrimination. Another example is a supervisor treating an individual less favorably due to their age. 

State and federal regulations require that every worker in California be judged on actual qualifications, not on age-related assumptions. 

Age discrimination takes a wide range of specific forms; however, a case will fall into one of the following two categories.

Disparate Treatment 

Disparate treatment refers to scenarios in which an employer intentionally singles out or treats a worker less favorably based on a protected characteristic. Generally, this is the more blatant form of age discrimination. 

In arguing disparate treatment, you have to prove the intentional discrimination. Additionally, claims of disparate treatment must show that “but-for” the employee’s age, the negative action would not have occurred. 

Imagine that a large software company in Los Angeles accepted only applicants who were under 30 years old. This is an example of disparate treatment. The hiring policy may discriminate against older workers within the protected class.

Disparate Impact 

Disparate impact is also sometimes referred to as ‘unintentional discrimination.’ Disparate impact refers to situations in which an employer’s conduct or policies disproportionately impact a protected group negatively. Claiming disparate impact in the workplace requires identification of the specific policy negatively impacting the protected group. On its face, the practice appears neutral. However, in application, the practice disproportionately affects employees aged 40 and older. 

Imagine that a company accepted only job applicants who graduated from college in the last three years. 

Although technically job applicants of any age could have graduated from college in the last three years, the hiring policy disproportionately filters out older workers. 

Therefore, an argument exists for a disparate impact age discrimination claim against the company.


The Federal Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) applies to both public and private companies, labor organizations, and employment agencies. 

Companies employing five or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against employees or potential hires in protected categories, including age. Individuals over 40 asserting their rights under the law are protected from retaliation by employers. 

Similarly, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal act prohibiting discrimination against individuals over the age of 40. The ADEA applies specifically to private companies with 20 or more employees and public companies. Additionally, the private company must engage in interstate commerce. 

ADEA encompasses discrimination in the workplace encompassing any aspect of employment, including the following: 

  • Hiring,
  • Firing,
  • Pay,
  • Job assignments,
  • Promotions,
  • Layoffs,
  • Training,
  • Benefits, and 
  • Any other term of employment. 

Federal laws provide protection against age discrimination for individuals over the age of 40. However, some states have implemented age discrimination protections for younger workers.


One of the biggest challenges that employees face is how to prove age discrimination in the workplace. Most employers are aware of the fact that there are state and federal labor laws prohibiting age discrimination. 

Unfortunately, this does not mean that supervisors and companies refrain from discriminatory practices. 

Instead, discrimination is often concealed.

If you believe that you faced discrimination on the job, it is imperative that you take the proper steps to protect yourself.

Take Notes and Keep Careful Records

Age discrimination claims must be built on a foundation of compelling and reliable supporting evidence. The more evidence that you have in your possession, the better your position in the claims process. When age discrimination occurs, taking notes and recording as much information as possible is essential.

If something was said to you, write down what happened, when it happened, and who was there. If you receive an email, text message, or voicemail, save it. Retain as much information as possible.

Remember That Unfair Treatment is Not Always Illegal

To prevail in an age discrimination case, you must be able to prove that you faced disparate treatment or a disparate impact based on your age. It is important to remember that unfair treatment is not always illegal treatment.

An attorney’s assistance aids in proving that age was a factor in the adverse treatment. Most importantly, evidence gathered must focus on instances where age or age-related factors were relevant.

Consult with an Employment Lawyer Immediately

There are time constraints for an employment discrimination claim. From the moment you experience age discrimination in the workplace, be ready to discuss your case with an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer.

An employment attorney can explain the age discrimination laws in California applicable to your experience. They also take the proper steps to address the issue and gather the evidence needed to win your case.


Our Los Angeles employment law attorneys have extensive experience handling a wide range of age discrimination cases. 

Whether you are seeking to prove age discrimination for a workplace harassment claim,  a hiring discrimination claim, or  a wrongful termination claim, we are here to help. 

At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys will:

●  Conduct a free, strictly private review of your age discrimination claim;

●  Explain relevant state and federal laws and answer your questions;

●  Investigate the case — helping you organize and obtain additional evidence; and

●  Take the appropriate legal action to protect your rights and get you financial compensation.

Our office handles age discrimination claims on a case-by-case basis. The circumstances facing our clients vary widely and receive our focus and attention.

In some cases, we represent workers in wrongful termination claims. An age discrimination claim on this basis argues that a worker was unlawfully fired or laid off based on their age. Additionally, we represent older workers experiencing unfair disciplinary actions based on their age. 

No matter your situation, we are here to help protect your rights.


At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our California employment discrimination lawyers are strong advocates for employees in a wide range of age discrimination claims. 

If you or your family member witnessed or experienced age discrimination, please contact our law firm immediately. Our Los Angeles law office handles discrimination claims all over Los Angeles County, including in Anaheim, Santa Monica, Torrance, and Santa Ana


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)