Both federal and California law prohibit employers from using an employee’s age as a factor in making employment decisions. This protection is only available if you are 40 years old or older, however. Below is an overview of federal and California laws regarding restrictions on age discrimination. While this blog provides a helpful summary, you should speak with a Pasadena employment discrimination attorney if you believe that you have been discriminated against due to your age.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
In 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to address concerns about discrimination for older workers. Originally, it only covered workers up to age 70, but that upper restriction has since been removed. It was enacted in response to employment practices that forced older workers to stop working or retire from a company when they reached a certain age. This often happened regardless of their skills or abilities. For some employers, this method provided a means to get rid of higher-paid, more experienced workers. They would force the older worker to retire so they could employ a younger worker and pay him or her less as well. Employers also argued that hiring younger workers was better for the image that they were attempting to convey as well. The ADEA affects employers that have at least 20 employees. It sets out that it is illegal for any employer to discriminate based on your age if you over 40 years old. That includes:
- Employment decisions (hiring, firing, etc.)
- Terms and conditions of employment
- Compensation and benefits
Generally, if an employer takes adverse employment action against you because of your age, you may have an employment discrimination claim.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
Like the federal law, the California FEHA prohibits age discrimination for those who are 40 or older in the employment and housing context. The FEHA, however, expands the scope of which employers are covered—every employer that has just five employees is covered by the FEHA.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces state laws regarding discrimination in the workplace in California.
Making an Age Discrimination Claim in California
You have several options for filing an age discrimination claim in California. You can file a complaint with the DFEH or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also file with both at the same time. Both agencies can do an investigation, but the state agency will likely end up taking the lead in most circumstances.
You must go through the administrative process of filing a discrimination claim before you can assert your claim in court. There is a specific process that you must go through to be able to sue, and your Pasadena employment attorney can help you ensure that you are going through the proper steps.
Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers can ensure that you are following the proper procedures to bring your age discrimination claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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