Age Discrimination Laws Provide More Protection Than You Think
In addition to federal laws that protect older employees from discrimination in the workplace, California also has laws that provide a number of protections for older workers. But don’t let that word fool you—“older workers” actually encompasses a lot of people, who may be younger than you think.
Think you’re too young to be a victim of age discrimination? Think again—you only need to be 40 years or or older, to be protected by California’s age discrimination laws.
Not So Obvious
Age discrimination is not always obvious—in fact, you may have trouble spotting it.
Certainly, firing someone because of age, or refusing to hire someone older in favor of younger aged workers is an obvious signal. But there are other signals that can trigger an age discrimination lawsuit as well.
For example, doing things to push, encourage or coerce older employees to retire, can be the basis of a discrimination claim. Likewise, punishing workers for underperforming when that underperformance is really just because of age, can be a sign of discrimination. Not providing technological or IT or computer training in the workplace, which can prevent an older employee from advancing professionally, can also be a form of age discrimination.
It’s not just an employer that’s restricted from discrimination either. Unions, training or certification programs, internships or labor organizations, also cannot discriminate based on age.
Burdens in Federal and State Law Cases
One subtle but important difference between California age discrimination law and federal law, is that in California to win an age discrimination case, the employee only needs to show that the employee’s age was a “motivating factor” in any adverse employment or hiring decision.
Contrast that to federal law, which requires that the employee show that the employees’ age was the absolute and total cause for the adverse or negative employment decision.
This means that in California, as long as age was some part of the employer’s adverse decision or played even a partial role in something negative that happened to the employee at work, the employee can win his or her age discrimination lawsuit.
It can be hard to tell if any part of a negative hiring decision is based on age. Most employers won’t just come out and say that, nor will they just openly joke about age. But subtle comments can be an indicator of discrimination. Similarly qualified employees who get promotions or benefits that the older employees don’t get, is another indicator of age discrimination.
Any sudden poor performance review, or just a general change in attitude towards you, can be a sign that age discrimination is taking place. Employers may give you harder duties, or duties that are more difficult to be successful at—basically, employers may “set you up to fail,” all because of your age.
Don’t guess if you’re being discriminated against at work because of your age. Let us help you. Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.