Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA
Updated on: 9/3/2023
Short Answer: According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, age discrimination in California is defined as employer discrimination against employees or job seekers who are 40 years of age or older.
Element of Age Discrimination,California Definition
Protected Age Range,Employees age 40 and older are protected from age discrimination.
Prohibited Actions,It’s illegal to discriminate against or treat employees unfairly based on their age when making hiring, firing, promotions, or other employment decisions.
Exceptions,Some exceptions may apply, such as certain bona fide occupational qualifications or seniority systems, but discrimination based on age is generally not allowed.
Remedies,If proven, remedies can include compensation for lost wages, job reinstatement, or other appropriate relief.
Legal Basis,Age discrimination is primarily covered under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against employees or job applicants on the basis of age, specifically protecting individuals within the protected age group.
Age discrimination can occur at any stage of the employment relationship, including hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. It encompasses actions that adversely affect individuals or create a hostile work environment due to their age, limiting their opportunities and rights in the workplace.
Below is a look at age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC in the past two years.
|Year||Age Discrimination Charges Filed|
Here’s a quick look at what might cause age discrimination in California:
|Biased Hiring Practices||Favoring younger candidates over older ones|
|Age-Related Stereotypes||Making assumptions based on age|
|Denied Training Opportunities||Withholding skill development from older employees|
|Exclusion from Projects||Assigning important tasks only to younger workers|
|Inequitable Promotions||Overlooking older employees for advancement|
|Pay Disparities||Paying younger workers more for the same job|
|Mockery or Ridicule||Making fun of older employees’ abilities or habits|
|Forced Retirement||Pressuring or requiring older employees to retire|
|Age-Linked Benefits||Denying benefits like health coverage based on age|
|Marginalization||Treating older workers as less valuable|
|Lack of Accommodations||Ignoring needs related to age-related challenges|
|Law or Regulation||Applicability||Key Provisions and Protections|
|California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)||Employers with 5 or more employees||Prohibits age discrimination in employment|
|Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)||Employers with 20 or more employees||Prohibits age discrimination against employees 40 years or older|
|California Labor Code Section 96(k)||All employers||Protects employees from retaliation for age discrimination claims|
|California Government Code Section 12941||Employers offering apprenticeship programs||Prohibits age discrimination in apprenticeship programs|
|California Government Code Section 12926(w)||All employers||Defines “age” as a protected category in employment|
|California Code of Regulations, Title 2, Section 11069||State programs and activities||Ensures equal access for older individuals in state programs|
|California Civil Code Section 51.9||All employers||Prohibits age-based harassment, a form of age discrimination|
Below is a list of examples of age discrimination in various employment contexts:
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, and age discrimination can manifest in various other ways.
Person A is a highly experienced and skilled software engineer in their early 40s. They have a strong track record of successfully developing innovative software solutions and have received numerous accolades throughout their career. However, due to a recent economic downturn, the company they work for decides to downsize and lays off a significant portion of its workforce.
Person B, on the other hand, is a recent college graduate in their early 20s who joined the same company just a few months ago. While Person B is intelligent and enthusiastic, they lack the same level of experience and technical expertise as Person A.
Despite the company’s need to reduce its workforce, they decide to retain Person B while letting go of Person A. The justification given by the company is that they want to prioritize a younger workforce that is more adaptable to new technologies and trends. However, the decision to terminate Person A solely based on their age and not on their performance or capabilities amounts to age discrimination.
In this scenario, Person A, despite having superior skills and experience, faced adverse treatment solely because of their age, whereas Person B, with less experience, was favored based on their younger age. This example illustrates how age discrimination can occur when individuals are treated differently or unfairly based on their age, rather than their abilities or qualifications.
Person A is a highly skilled and experienced teacher who has been working at a prestigious high school for over 30 years. They consistently receive excellent performance reviews and are respected by students, parents, and colleagues alike. However, as Person A reaches their late 50s, the school administration begins pressuring them to retire early.
Despite Person A’s dedication, expertise, and willingness to continue teaching, the school administration believes that younger teachers bring a fresh perspective and are more in touch with modern teaching methods. They use this as a justification to push Person A into early retirement, even though there is no decline in their performance or abilities.
The school administration starts making subtle remarks about Person A’s age, suggesting that they may struggle to keep up with the demands of the rapidly evolving educational landscape. Additionally, they hint at the potential benefits of retirement, such as more free time and reduced workload.
Feeling cornered and fearing further mistreatment or repercussions, Person A reluctantly agrees to retire early, despite their desire to continue contributing to their profession. The forced early retirement not only deprives Person A of the opportunity to continue utilizing their expertise but also sends a message to other older teachers that their contributions and skills are undervalued based on their age.
In this example, Person A experiences age discrimination as they are pressured into early retirement based on their age, rather than their qualifications, performance, or desire to continue working. This case highlights how age discrimination can occur when individuals are forced out of their jobs or denied career opportunities solely because they reach a certain age, without considering their abilities, contributions, or willingness to continue working.
Person A is a dedicated and experienced employee in their late 50s who has been working at a manufacturing company for many years. They have a strong work ethic and have consistently met or exceeded their performance targets throughout their tenure. However, due to a company-wide restructuring, layoffs are announced.
Despite Person A’s solid track record and contributions to the company, they are unexpectedly terminated for alleged “poor performance.” The company claims that they need to cut costs and streamline operations, and Person A’s performance is cited as the reason for their dismissal.
Person B, a younger worker in their early 30s, is employed in a similar position and has not been with the company for as long as Person A. However, they are retained and even receive a promotion amidst the layoffs. The company justifies this decision by highlighting Person B’s potential and their ability to adapt to new technologies and processes.
Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the allegations of poor performance against Person A are baseless and merely a pretext for age discrimination. Person A’s performance evaluations, which were consistently positive, contradict the company’s claims. The real motivation behind their termination appears to be their age, as the company seeks to build a younger workforce under the guise of performance-based layoffs.
In this example, Person A experiences age discrimination as they are unjustly terminated for “poor performance” despite their strong track record, while Person B, a younger worker, is favored and even promoted. This case highlights how age discrimination can occur when older employees are targeted for termination based on false performance claims, while younger employees receive preferential treatment, perpetuating a biased perception of older workers’ capabilities and value.
Do you believe you’re experiencing age discrimination in California? Take this online quiz to find out if you might have a valid claim. You could have a potential answer in about 90 seconds.
In California, employers have significant responsibilities to prevent age discrimination in the workplace and to address any age discrimination complaints that arise. Key aspects of employer responsibility regarding age discrimination include:
It’s crucial for employers in California to be aware of these responsibilities and to create a work environment that is free from age discrimination. Failure to comply with these obligations can lead to legal consequences, including fines and lawsuits.
If you have encountered age discrimination in California, you have recourse through various avenues. One option is to file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or DFEH).
Alternatively, you can choose to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies are responsible for investigating and addressing claims of age discrimination in employment.
Taking action by submitting a complaint can initiate the process of seeking justice and holding accountable those who engage in age-based discriminatory practices.
Determining if you do not have a valid age discrimination case under California law requires considering some of these factors. This list is not exhaustive.
Remember, employment laws can be complex, and each case is unique. Consulting with an employment attorney who specializes in discrimination law will provide you with the most accurate assessment of your specific circumstances and whether you have a valid age discrimination case under California law.
To prove age discrimination in California, you generally need to establish the following elements, although specific evidence requirements may vary:
Again each age discrimination case is different, so it is always best to speak with a qualified employment attorney to see if you have a valid case.
If you believe you’re experiencing age discrimination in California, it’s crucial to handle the situation carefully to protect your rights and potentially build a strong case. Here are some things you should avoid doing:
Each case of age discrimination is unique, and the right course of action depends on the specifics of your situation.
Age discrimination laws in California specifically protect individuals who are 40 years of age or older. Younger individuals may not be covered under these laws.
Age discrimination laws in California apply to both employees and job applicants.
There are certain limited exceptions, such as when age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) essential to the job role. However, such exceptions are rare and narrowly defined.
In most cases, employers are not allowed to ask about an applicant’s age or birthdate before making a job offer. This helps prevent age bias during the selection process.
Remedies can include back pay, front pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages (in certain cases), attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief.
Generally, you have one year from the date of the alleged discriminatory act to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Yes, you can file an age discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), but the time limits and procedures may differ from California state law.
You should consider consulting an employment attorney and filing a complaint with the DFEH or the EEOC, depending on the circumstances and the laws that apply to your situation.
Yes, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a discrimination complaint, and such retaliation can lead to additional legal claims.
Yes, if you believe you have a valid claim of age discrimination, you may file a lawsuit against your employer in California.
Yes, having evidence, such as documents, emails, witness statements, or a record of discriminatory actions, can be crucial in establishing your case.
It’s highly recommended to consult with an experienced employment attorney in California if you believe you are a victim of age discrimination. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process.
If you have age discrimination questions, we have answers. Contact us today to get connected with one of the best discrimination lawyers in your area. They’ll provide you with a free consultation of your case and a potential settlement quote.