As the #MeToo movement has proven, it’s tough being a woman in the workplace, particularly working in a male-dominated field. Even tougher, it seems, is the discrimination women face as they get older and try to maintain their standing in their professional careers. Many face a different set of standards as they age than their male counterparts, according to an examination by Forbes. Men’s age is often seen as a symbol of experience, status, wisdom, and leadership capabilities. Even if they lack the modern skills some younger people bring to the workforce, they are typically valued for the knowledge they can share with those inexperienced in the field. For women, though, their age can be construed as a sign that they are outdated, out-of-touch, and lacking technical abilities. Sadly, physical appearance is frequently a factor is these discriminatory practices, with men’s appearances being viewed more favorably as they age.
Ageism and sexism run deep in our society, so some might not even be aware they are mentally perceiving their employees differently. But hidden biases are not an excuse to give employees unequal treatment. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sec. 623 clearly states it is unlawful to fail or refuse to hire someone because of their age, or to discriminate in any way including compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The law also prohibits classifying or segregating an employee in such a way that deprives them of opportunities other employees enjoy as a result of his or her age. Reduction of wages due to a person’s age is also illegal. Of course consideration of a person’s sex was already prohibited in workplace hiring, firing, and promotion matters based on Title VII of the civil rights Act of 1964.
When it comes to discrimination, though, our employment lawyers know companies can find crafty ways to make their actions look appropriate on paper. Management might suddenly shift expectations of employment or create constantly moving goalposts. Employees might see a sudden drop on their evaluation scores, despite no notable change in performance. They might also be criticized more harshly for mistakes and behaviors exhibited by other employees without recourse. As our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys can explain, this makes it extremely difficult to prove that discrimination is taking place. If an employee is passed over for a promotion or, worse yet, fired, executives can point to a series of viable reason why the decision was made that are not against the law. But we know that discrimination isn’t usually just one action. It’s a series of actions that build over time. It would seem discriminating a person on two fronts would make it more obvious, but sometimes it is actually easier to hide. An employer can still provide data on how many women or people over the age of 40 work for the company, while hiding that those who fit both demographics are not treated as fairly as either group alone.
Because of a precedent set by the 2008 Supreme Court decision in the case of Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., the full burden of proof in age discrimination cases lies squarely on the employee. That is why it is so important to seek the help of experienced employment attorneys. Our team is equipped with the resources and know-how to build the best case possible for you in the face of unfair and unlawful discrimination.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Supreme Court Makes Age Bias suits Harder to Win, June 19, 2009, By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:
U.S. Age Discrimination Law Turns 50, Still As Relevant Today, March 21, 2017, Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Blog