Age discrimination is a pressing issue that impacts professionals across many industries. If you feel your age has played a role in unfair treatment at work, it’s important to understand your legal protections and what recourse is available.
A California age discrimination lawyer at TONG LAW can evaluate your situation to determine if you have grounds for an age discrimination claim and advise you on the best course of action. Don’t endure an unjust work environment – assert your rights with the help of our accomplished employment law firm.
What is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination, also referred to as ageism, occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfavorably or provides fewer opportunities because of their age. This form of discrimination impacts individuals age 40 and older.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provide the primary legislative protections against age discrimination. Additional regulations like California’s FEHA regulations and the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act reinforce those core state and federal laws.
Age discrimination manifests in various forms but generally falls into three main categories of discrimination and harassment:
This involves clear preferential treatment given to substantially younger employees. Examples include an employer stating a desire for a “younger workforce,” passing over older workers for promotions or advancement opportunities, forcibly retiring older employees earlier than they planned, or asking older employees about their retirement plans in a coercive manner. Failing to hire an older applicant over a younger, less qualified candidate absent any rationale other than age also constitutes direct evidence of age bias.
On the surface, a company’s policies and practices may appear age-neutral. However, in application, they have a disparate discriminatory impact on older professionals. Examples include denying tuition reimbursement, training opportunities, or mentorship programs to workers above a certain age. Imposing rigid attendance, leave, or scheduling policies that fail to reasonably accommodate age-related disabilities can also disproportionately affect older employees. Limiting recruiting to college campuses instead of advertising in media to reach all demographics tends to deter older applicants.
Offensive age-related remarks, intimidating behaviors, exclusion from activities, or other forms of maltreatment create a hostile and toxic professional climate for older employees. This is considered harassment when it is severe or pervasive enough to negatively impact the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. For instance, managers or coworkers regularly questioning older employees’ abilities, teasing them about memory or appearance, excluding them from events, refusing to work collaboratively with them, or making offensive comments about age could create a hostile work environment and constitute illegal harassment.
Steps to Take Against Potential Age Discrimination
If you experience any signs of possible unlawful age discrimination, taking prompt strategic action helps protect your rights. Key steps typically include:
1. Documenting Incidents
Maintain detailed written records of events, conversations, policies, statistics, patterns, and anything else that could constitute evidence. Note key details like dates, names of witnesses and individuals involved, supporting documents, emails, texts, personnel file contents, and specific adverse employment actions taken.
2. Filing an Administrative Charge or Complaint
For state law claims, file your complaint with the California Civil Rights Department. If your complaint also alleges violations of federal law, the Department will dual-file the charges with the federal EEOC as well. This preserves your federal claims for investigation.
3. Consulting a California Employment Law Attorney
An employment attorney well-versed in age discrimination law can provide invaluable guidance at every stage. They can strategically request evidence from your employer, take depositions, negotiate a settlement on your behalf, and represent you throughout any administrative proceedings or litigation if required. An experienced age discrimination attorney also understands how to build the strongest legal case.
4. Participating in Mediation
If filing an administrative charge does not resolve the situation, mediation is often the next step. An impartial third-party mediator facilitates productive discussion and explores the potential for a negotiated settlement between you and your employer. Mediation aims for faster and less adversarial resolution than protracted litigation.
5. Initiating a Lawsuit
If other resolution attempts fail and discrimination persists, filing a lawsuit asserting your rights may be the next course of action. This enables your age discrimination case to be heard by a jury rather than a single regulatory agency or judge. Your attorney can file suit under relevant state or federal laws prohibiting age discrimination.
With the guidance of a knowledgeable employment law attorney, you can take the necessary steps to protect your rights at each phase in the process.
Potential Remedies and Financial Compensation
If substantial evidence of unlawful age discrimination exists and legal proceedings find in your favor, several forms of relief may be available:
- Recovering full back pay is associated with lost wages, wrongful termination, demotion, denied promotion, reduction in hours, or other earning losses.
- Reinstatement to your prior position and seniority or front pay compensation if reinstatement is not feasible.
- Future earnings losses if advancement opportunities were impeded.
- Compensatory damages for the emotional distress and pain and suffering caused by discriminatory mistreatment.
- In egregious cases where reckless disregard for the law is found, punitive damages may be awarded.
- Recovering all reasonable legal costs associated with asserting your rights.
- Injunctive relief, requiring your employer to take corrective actions such as overhauling discriminatory policies, conducting training, or implementing internal monitoring procedures.
The total value will depend on the specific details and impact of your individual case. But age discrimination laws provide real remedies to make victims whole. With an experienced age discrimination lawyer, you can understand your legal options and pursue justice.
Don’t Endure Workplace Age Discrimination – Assert Your Rights
If you feel you have experienced signs of potential age discrimination, you do not have to remain silent or tolerate an unjust situation. Legal protections exist to safeguard your livelihood and ensure you are treated fairly regardless of your age. TONG LAW has helped countless professionals in California stand up to ageism in the workplace and pursue the compensation they deserve. Your dedicated employment discrimination lawyer will thoroughly investigate allegations, build an airtight legal case, and fight relentlessly for justice on your behalf.
Every person has a right to fair treatment and equal opportunity throughout their career. Contact us today for a consultation – we are committed to helping you determine the best course of action if you have been affected by unlawful discrimination. The sooner we can get involved, the better positioned we will be to aggressively defend your rights. Reach out now to schedule a completely confidential discussion.