There are many ways employers wrongfully discriminate against employees in the workplace. If you are over the age of 40 and your employer fired, demoted, denied you a promotion, or otherwise took adverse employment action against you based on your age, you may have been subjected to age discrimination. Age discrimination in California is a violation of both state and federal law, and you may be entitled to take legal action to recover your damages if your employer violated these laws.
Age discrimination can be broadly defined as receiving less favorable treatment in the workplace due to one’s age. In California, it is a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to discriminate against anyone over the age of 40 in the workplace. However, age discrimination is not always obvious and it can take many forms. Any adverse employment action taken against an employee because of their age may be considered illegal discrimination.
Adverse employment actions in connection with a claim for age discrimination may include:
The laws regarding age discrimination also apply to the hiring process. While it isn’t illegal for employers to request a job applicant’s date of birth, they may not use it to reject an applicant because they are 40 years old or older. Importantly, the law also protects employees from retaliation for filing an age discrimination claim or taking part in a Department of Fair Employment and Housing investigation.
Significantly, although independent contractors do not have the protections of California’s anti-workplace discrimination laws, they are still protected by the age-based harassment laws.
Employers don’t generally tell employees that they have been terminated or demoted due to their age. But there are usually a few signs that age discrimination in the workplace has occurred. For instance, if a company is taking measures to promote a “young” culture and older employees are wrongfully terminated or forced to retire, this may be indicative of age discrimination.
Age discrimination in California can also happen when there is a pattern of employees over 40 being turned down for certain assignments. Additionally, giving a bad performance review with no history of poor performance is another common way employers might discriminate against employees due to their age; this typically occurs when an employer looks for a legal way to terminate an employee.
If you’ve suffered an adverse employment action due to age discrimination in the workplace, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. It’s essential to understand that there are stringent deadlines involved and procedures that must be followed to file a claim and obtain the recovery you deserve. While lawsuits for age discrimination can also be brought under federal law, California law often provides greater protections to employees.
If the claim is not resolved by the agency, you will be issued a “right-to-sue” letter allowing you to file an action in court. You only have one year to file a complaint with the DFEH, beginning on the date the age discrimination occurred. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a “right-to-sue” letter without going through the administrative process if you are represented by an attorney.
Age discrimination in the workplace can not only have a negative impact on your career, but it can also affect you personally. Fortunately, a wide variety of damages may be available to you if you prevail in an age discrimination lawsuit brought under California law. These damages are meant to compensate you for the economic losses you may have suffered — and you may sometimes even be able to recover for the emotional distress you endured.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might be eligible to recover back pay, benefits and pension loss, and the income you would have received from a promotion or raise. You may also be awarded monetary recovery for your pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be awarded if the age discrimination was willful or intentional.
No one should be subjected to age discrimination in the workplace. If you are 40 or older and suffered an adverse employment action due to your age, you are protected by California’s anti-age discrimination laws and may have the right to take legal action.
An experienced employment law attorney can discuss your legal rights and remedies with you and help ensure you secure the compensation that is rightfully yours. With a focus on providing straightforward advice and high-quality advocacy, Optimum Employment Lawyers is committed to protecting the rights of workers throughout age discrimination in California lawsuits and a wide variety of employment matters. Contact us at (949) 954-8181 to schedule a consultation.