Federal and California discrimination laws make it illegal for employers to make an employment-related decision based on age. However, age discrimination laws at the state and federal levels apply only to workers that are at least 40 years old. One of the most common types of age discrimination is hiring a younger worker instead of an older worker because the younger worker commands a lower salary.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Enacted by the United States Congress in 1967 to prevent employers from discriminating against older workers, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) dramatically changed the workplace by prohibiting age discrimination. Although the ADEA initially protected workers until they reached the age of 70, Congress removed the age limit during the Reagan administration.
The ADEA covers employers that have a minimum of 20 workers. Employers cannot make employment decisions that discriminate against workers that are at least 40 years old, which includes hiring, promotion, and compensation decisions.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act
Like with many other types of laws, California was the trendsetter when it came to prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace. Passed by the California legislature eight years before the enactment of the ADEA, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also protects workers against age discrimination that are at least 40 years old. Although the FEHA is similar to the ADEA, the FEHA covers employers that have just five workers.
Proving Age Discrimination
If you believe your employer discriminated against you because you are 40 years or older, you have to prove your employer violated the ADEA and the FEHA. Physical evidence combine with witness accounts represent the most effective way to prove age discrimination. Physical evidence can come in the form of employee records and the terms of employment spelled out in the employee manual. Witness accounts can confirm your employer engaged in one or more of the following unlawful acts of discrimination.
- Unfair discipline
- Lack of promotion
- Lower wages
- Exclusion from company events
Both the ADEA and FEHA prohibit employers from discriminating against job candidates based on age. The way to prove this type of discrimination is to compare the professional credentials between an older job candidate and a younger job candidate.
How to File an Age Discrimination Claim in California
Contacting a California employment attorney is the first step on the road to filing a successful age discrimination claim. Your lawyer can help you file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You must file an age discrimination claim before the statute of limitations expires. Otherwise, the government agency responsible for reviewing your claim will dismiss it.
After processing your claim, the government agency processing it issues you a right-to-sue letter, which states you have complied with the rules that require you to file a claim with the proper government agency. Once again, you must file a right-to-sue letter before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Hiring an experienced employment discrimination attorney ensures you file your right-to-sue letter before the government-imposed deadline.
Contact the PLBSH Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation to determine how to proceed with your claim. You can reach us by submitting the online form or by calling our office at (800) 435-7542.