In less than 10 years, more than a quarter of the population in California is going to be over the age of 60. Nationally by 2035, the number of people over the age of 65 will outnumber those under 18 – for the first time ever. As we speak, there are an estimated 10,000 people in America turning 65 every day. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Los Angeles employment lawyers are getting more inquiries than ever about age discrimination at work and what constitutes a possible claim.
Age discrimination is unlawful under both California and U.S. laws – but it can be tough to prove, despite being increasingly common. It is very important if you’re considering pursuit of an age discrimination claim that you prioritize hiring an employment lawyer who knows what they’re doing – and has a proven track record of success in this particular area of law.
Why Do Employers Engage in Age Discrimination?
Older workers are defined as those 40 and older, and they may be vulnerable in landing and/or keeping a job – primarily on the basis of their age.
According to the AARP, an estimated 80 percent of older workers say they’ve experienced age discrimination at work.
Why would a workplace discriminate against older workers? Among the reasons sometimes cited (openly or not) for favoring younger workers:
- They may be open to more flexible work schedules. They are less likely to have spouses, families, and other obligations that demand a reasonable work-life balance.
- They tend to be more attractive. This of course is not a relevant factor for most positions, but the beauty bias is real and well-established.
- They’re cheaper. Less experience means lower salaries, fewer benefits, less sick leave, less risk of injury, etc.
- They’re better with technology. This is a myth – more experienced workers are just as efficient with the most up-to-date tech. But this misconception sometimes drives age discrimination in employment.
Many of these are rooted in preconceived notions and age-based stereotypes. Some of these reasons cited may be a solid basis for an age discrimination claim, depending on the particulars.
As noted by California’s Employment Development Department, some of the laws that protect older workers in this state include:
- The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. This law bars discrimination based on age by employers against workers who are 40 years or older.
- The California Fair Employment & Housing Act. This state law prohibits employer discrimination against employees or job seekers over 40.
There are also unions and labor organizations that protect workers from age discrimination as well.
How Can We Identify Age Discrimination?
Determining whether you’ve been adversely impacted by age discrimination can be tricky. Employers rarely come right out and say that they’re denying a promotion or laying off or not hiring someone on the basis of age. But as Los Angeles employment attorneys, we may be able to identify age discrimination when adverse employment action involves something like:
- Terminating or laying off “higher salary” employees in a way that disproportionately impacts older workers.
- Relegating unpopular duties, shifts, or service areas to older workers.
- Sudden changes in performance reviews.
- Making jokes or disparaging remarks about older workers.
- Excluding older workers from relevant meetings, conversations, gatherings, etc.
- Using language in recruiting or promotion opportunities that underscore “youth culture.”
- Mandatory retirement for older workers (with a few exceptions).
It’s worth noting that not all adverse employment actions may be based on age, but they can still be considered age discrimination. For example (this is unlikely, but just to show the point): A company policy may be justified in prohibiting neon hair colors, but could be construed as age discrimination if it prohibited gray hair. The policy isn’t precisely targeted toward workers over 40, but they’re likely to be disproportionately impacted by it – and thus may be deemed age discrimination.
If you believe you’ve been negatively impacted by age discrimination at work, our Southern California employment attorneys can help.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Age Discrimination, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
More Blog Entries:
Sex, Age Discrimination Cited in Sizable, Lasting Job Losses Among Older Women Amid Pandemic, Oct. 21, 2021, Los Angeles Age Discrimination Lawyer Blog