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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > What You May Not Have Known About Age Discrimination in the Workplace

What You May Not Have Known About Age Discrimination in the Workplace


Are you being discriminated against at work because of your age? That may seem like an easy question to answer, given that most of us are aware that age discrimination is illegal. But there are a lot of things about age discrimination that you may not be aware of.

It’s not just employers – Even job training, apprenticeship or mentorship companies or opportunities, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of your age.

Age matters – You must be 40 years old or older, in order to have an age discrimination lawsuit. Unfortunately, neither federal or California law provides such protections for workers under the age of 40.

It’s not just firing – Certainly, when older employees are fired, or not hired, the discrimination may be obvious. But discrimination takes other forms as well. For example, exclusion of older workers in job training programs or denying older workers promotions, job benefits or opportunities, or just failure to promote older workers, can qualify as discrimination

Layoff for salary – Older workers who have been with a company longer, tend to make more money. That leaves companies with an easy excuse to discriminate; they’re not firing workers because they’re older, they’re firing them because they’re more expensive.

But that excuse doesn’t fly; while laying off people for salary reasons is legal, if a mass layoff based on salary has the ultimate effect (that is, disparate impact) of discriminating against older employees, the policy is discriminatory, and thus, illegal.

Recruiting youth – Many companies recruit at colleges or universities or even high schools—places that tend to be more populated by younger workers. That is allowable, however, these cannot be the only ways that companies recruit. A company cannot recruit only in avenues that draw a younger population, in order to avoid having to hire older workers.

It’s just a joke – There is nothing illegal about making jokes about older people or workers. But if those jokes become so pervasive, and hurtful, they can create a hostile work environment for older people, which can give rise to age discrimination liability.

Age doesn’t have to be the only reason – Many employers, when faced with age discrimination lawsuits, will provide a number of legal reasons why they fired, laid off, or otherwise discriminated against older employees.

An employee who was discriminated against does not need to show that age was the only factor in the employer’s actions. So long as the employee’s age was a substantial factor in the employers’ decision, the actions may be considered discriminatory, giving the older worker the right to file an age discrimination lawsuit.

No retaliation – If you believe your employer is discriminating based on age, you have a right to report that behavior, and not be punished by your employer for doing so—even if you’re not the one being discriminated against, and even if you are younger, and not protected by age discrimination laws.

Don’t be a victim of age discrimination where you work. Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.




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