Age is a protected trait under both federal and California laws. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee who is 40 or older. Discrimination occurs whenever an adverse step is taken against an employee due to a protected trait. For example, if you are fired and told that it is because you are getting close to retirement, this would count as age discrimination. However, most often, the facts are more ambiguous, and advice from an employment lawyer may be needed to determine if an adverse measure was taken against you because of your age. At the Calderone Law Firm, our El Segundo age discrimination lawyers can investigate what happened and offer knowledgeable representation to employees who have been wronged.Bringing an Age Discrimination Claim
Age is a protected class in California under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The ADEA applies to private employers with at least 20 employees. FEHA applies to employers with at least five employees.
Only workers who are at least 40 years old are protected against employment discrimination. Discrimination exists if an adverse employment action is taken against you because you were at least 40. The adverse employment action could concern terms of employment, hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, demotions, compensation, benefits, training, apprenticeships, or job assignments.
Often, it is difficult to tell whether age discrimination has occurred. One example of age discrimination would be if a younger job applicant was hired over you, a more qualified applicant, simply because of your relative ages. Another example might be a job offer that seeks college graduates or people under 30. Or an older worker might be denied training or excluded from an apprenticeship program that is offered to younger employees. A supervisor might routinely assign demeaning tasks to older workers or otherwise participate in acts that are designed to encourage older workers to feel unwelcome or quit. You should not hesitate to consult an age discrimination attorney in El Segundo if you believe that you have been affected by any of these behaviors.
It is increasingly rare for an employer to openly admit that age was the reason for an employment decision. Sometimes coded language is used to show intent. For example, your employer might mention that the company is looking for fresh faces in connection with an impending layoff of older workers. However, you can raise an inference of discrimination by proving that:
- You belong to the protected class of workers who are at least 40;
- You have been subject to an adverse employment action, such as being fired, suspended, or not promoted; and
- Other employees who do not have the protected trait of age were treated better or differently in a similar situation.
Plaintiffs bringing an age discrimination claim can also bring a "disparate impact" case. A disparate impact case is one in which it is not necessary to show that a particular employer intended to discriminate, only that because of seemingly neutral employment policies, there was a disparate impact on employees who are 40 or older. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that in a disparate impact ADEA claim, a plaintiff needs to identify a particular practice with an adverse impact on older employees and show that the employer's decision that resulted in a disparate impact was not based on some reasonable factor besides age. Employers must show that they did not have another, less discriminatory way to achieve the goal that they were trying to reach with the practice.Consult a Skilled Age Discrimination Lawyer in El Segundo or Beyond
Age discrimination claims can be challenging to prove. Often, older workers are offered severance packages when they are asked to take a retirement or laid off. Specific rules must be followed under federal laws if you are at least 40 and offered severance in connection with a release of claims. If you need to bring an age discrimination claim in the Los Angeles area, the El Segundo age discrimination attorneys at the Calderone Law Firm can provide counsel and representation. We serve clients in cities throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties. Call us at (424) 348-8290 or contact us through our online form to set up an appointment with a discrimination lawyer.