Proving Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Image is of an illustration of an older woman standing at a cliff with a gap between her and coworkers who are speeding across, concept of age discrimination in the workplace

Age discrimination at work is a problem in today’s youth-focused culture. Our clients frequently ask us the first question: What is the age limit for filing an age discrimination case?

Surprisingly the answer is only 40 years old.

In 1967, Congress passed the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This was to prevent discrimination at work and encourage the employment of older workers. California later followed Congress’s lead and added age discrimination to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Unfortunately, in a report listing the status of age discrimination claims 50-years after the ADEA was passed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported “6 out of 10 older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and 90 percent of those say it is common”.

There are options for older employees who experience age discrimination. A Fraigun Law employment law attorney can help to fight for the respect and benefits you deserve. Call us today at 818-981-1800.

Table of Contents

What is Age Discrimination at Work?

In many employment practices, ageism is a problem. Fortunately, the ADEA and FEHA ban age discrimination from affecting:

  • Promotion and hiring practices
  • Advertisement for jobs
  • Compensation
  • Conditions or benefits
  • Training programs
  • Layoffs and firings

Both laws prohibit harassment and retaliation. This includes comments and jokes based on stereotypes, which can become so common they cause a hostile work environment. Some exceptions are allowed under these provisions, however. The ADEA permits police and fire departments to establish age limits based upon safety concerns.

The ADEA and FEHA are applicable to all employers. However, the FEHA doesn’t cover businesses with fewer employees than 5 and the ADEA has a limit of 20.

How to Prove Age Discrimination

There are two main ways to prove your case when you need to file an administrative complaint, or an age discrimination suit:

Disparate Treatment

Intentional ageism is the intentional discrimination against those 40 years and older. This is the most obvious form of discrimination, where an individual treats an applicant or employee less favorably due to their age.

This could be done by laying off all employees above the age of 55. It is difficult to prove age discrimination in layoffs like this. You must show that “but for” the employee’s, the adverse employment action would have not occurred.

For example, the company could argue that it had to reduce costs and it was the high salaries of the employee/s that necessitated the layoffs.

Disparate Impact

Age discrimination with a disparate effect is subtler and might even be intentional. Although the employer may appear neutral, their actions can have a negative impact on the protected over-40 class.

This category might include a pre-employment test that measures reaction time. Although it may seem neutral, it can have a significant impact on the company’s hiring decisions if they only hire younger and faster employees.

The company can still refute a disparate impact claim if it proves that it treated older workers differently on the basis of another reasonable factor. As an example, it might be demonstrating the importance of quick reaction time for workers inspecting items on a conveyor belt.

How Can I Pursue My Claim?

First, you need to file an EEOC claim. You can also file a complaint at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or request an immediate right-to-sue notice.

Our knowledgeable employment lawyers can help you choose the right path. Your attorney will file a complaint against age discrimination in court if you fail to resolve the issue administratively.

Why Should I Hire Fraigun Law for My Case?

Fraigun Law is an experienced and trusted employment law firm. We are committed to protecting the rights of employees. We take communication seriously and are well-known for keeping you updated on the progress of your case. Call us today at 818-981-1800 to arrange a free consultation.

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