Age discrimination against workers is nothing new. It’s not unique to California or even to America. Unfair treatment of older workers is a common thread in many societies, with ageism becoming more prevalent in economies that are advancing even as their workforce ages.It’s estimated that by 2030, one quarter of the world’s workforce will be over 55.
We’re likely to see a growing number of California age discrimination lawsuits as two of the largest generations – Baby Boomers and Millennials – cross the over-40 threshold. (Baby boomers are currently between 58 and 67, while the Millennials can be as young as 26, but as old as 41.)
What is Age Discrimination?
As defined by federal law (the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, in particular), age discrimination involves the unfair treatment that disadvantages older workers over the age of 40. Some state laws protect younger workers from age discrimination, but most cases focus on protecting workers as they age. The ADEA, for instance, is intended for the protection of over-40 job applicants and employees who might be treated unfairly in the process of hiring, firing, and pay, as well as the terms and conditions or privileges of employment.
How Common is Age Discrimination?
Although age discrimination may be more prevalent in some industries than others (particularly public-facing industries), our Orange County age discrimination lawyers can think of very few industries that are entirely immune to it.
Surveys conducted across states and industries reveal age discrimination is extremely prevalent. In California, it’s especially pronounced in the finance and technology fields. One poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons found that more than 60 percent of over-45 workers copped to experiencing some form of ageism or age discrimination at work.
Another analysis conducted by ProPublica and the Urban Institute revealed that more than 55 percent of workers over 50 had been effectively pushed out of jobs they’d held for some time – long before they felt they were ready to retire.
Even more research reveals that discrimination against older job applicants is pretty prevalent. In on analysis, researchers submitted employers fake resumes that were identical to one another – except for the age. In those scenarios, the older applicants got far fewer callbacks than younger applicants.
What’s more, there are cross-sectional factors that can play a role as well. Evidence shows that women tend to face greater age discrimination than men, and Black worker tended to face higher percentages of age discrimination than their white counterparts.
In the U.S., approximately 13,000 age discrimination complaints were filed for violations of ADEA. Even more were filed under violation of various state laws. But it’s likely the actual amount of age discrimination is much greater. Those that file age discrimination lawsuits tend to be those who have suffered fairly blatant or egregious cases of it – those that can likely be proven.
Winning an Age Discrimination Case
Although there may not be as many “wins” for age discrimination litigation as there is for, say, wage theft or sexual harassment, one reason is because a fair number of Southern California age discrimination lawsuits are settled out of court.
There are also a fair number of older employees who never file because they are given sizable severance packages – without realizing their rights and understanding they’re actually entitled to much more.
As for applicants who are discriminated against on the basis of age, many of them probably never find out unless there is a fairly blatant pattern of it.
It is true that California age discrimination lawsuits can be challenging to win. In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court set the bar even higher when it ruled in Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc. that to prove age discrimination, plaintiffs must prove that age was the deciding factor in the employer’s adverse employment action. Since then, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would set the bar at a more realistic level – allowing plaintiffs to prevail if they could prove age discrimination was a motivating factor – but so far, those laws have not passed.
Working with an experienced Orange County age discrimination lawyer will be key to prevailing in your case.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Age Discrimination Is Common, Winning Lawsuits Rare: QuickTake, Sept. 12, 2022, Bloomberg Law