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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > Do I Have An Age Discrimination Claim In California?

Do I Have An Age Discrimination Claim In California?


In California, age is a protected category. At least if you’re 40 years-of-age or older. That’s right, you cannot legally be discriminated against in California for being “too young,” regardless of how unfair it may feel. If an individual is denied a promotion for being “too young and inexperienced” it is not illegal. However, if an individual is denied a promotion from being “too close to retirement age,” it is. Individuals 40 years-of-age and above are protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, both by the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. While there is no question that this discrimination is illegal, it is often difficult to prove.

The Elements of Age Discrimination

In order to succeed on an age discrimination claim, you must first establish that you are a member of the protected class of individuals forty year-of-age or older. You must then demonstrate that you have suffered a disparate or negative employment action, such as being demoted, not receiving a promotion or schedule pay raise, or experiencing harassment, termination, or suspension. Finally, you must show that individuals who are not a member of this class (those under 40 years-of-age) received better treatment under the same circumstances.

Examples of Age Discrimination

Sometimes harassment and discrimination related to age can be so pervasive that it’s difficult to recognize. Below are some examples of age-based discrimination or harassment. If you have experienced these or similar behavior at your workplace, you do not need to tolerate it any longer. Report the treatment as soon as possible and contact an experienced California Employment Attorney.

  • A company culture that results in certain job positions only being open to people of a certain age. For instance, a supervisor telling you not to apply for a sales job because they only hire young people for that role.
  • Nicknames or teasing related to your age. For instance, being called “Boomer,” or jabs at not being good at using technology or having a bad memory that are otherwise unfounded.
  • Being refused promotions or advancement opportunities because of your age. For instance, “I’m surprised you’re applying, I thought you’d be focused on retirement.”
  • Company layoffs that suspiciously seem to only affect older employees. Older employees often have higher salaries, as many have been at the company the longest or have the most experience. For this reason, companies often choose to lay off all the older employees, as they cost the most to pay. However, the use of salary to make lay-off decisions can be a form of age discrimination if the decision negatively affects older employees as a whole. This is known as disparate impact discrimination.
  • Only recruiting young employees. If companies are only recruiting at high schools, colleges, and events for young workers, this may be a means of attempting to circumvent federal and state discrimination laws by only recruiting young workers and not having to consider or reject older applicants. The exclusive use of these recruitment practices can therefore also be a form of age-based discrimination.

Talk to a California Employment Lawyer

If you have experienced discrimination or harassment in your California workplace as a result of your age, contact the San Jose employment lawyers at Costanzo Law to schedule a free consultation.



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