Age Discrimination

We live in a society that is obsessed with looking and acting young. Our youth obsessed culture has permeated into the ethos of many companies to the detriment of older workers who have been marginalized and made to feel irrelevant and useless because of their age. Ageism is prevalent in corporate America and older workers face huge obstacles in finding and retaining employment.

Los Angeles age discrimination attorney Afshin Mozaffari has a comprehensive understanding of California employment law and can provide guidance to you about how the law works in this area.

Both the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) exist to protect the rights of workers who are age 40 or older. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against or harass an employee, age 40 or older, because of his or her age.

Age discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant over the age of 40 receives less favorable treatment because of his or her age. Proof of age-related employment discrimination requires an employee to show:

  • He or she is age 40 or older
  • His or her job performance was satisfactory
  • He or she suffered an adverse employment action, such as suspension, demotion, or termination
  • He or she was treated differently than younger employees

Age discrimination can be difficult to prove because things an employer might say, write, or insinuate about age can be so subtle. Here are some common fact patterns:

  • Encouraging older workers to retire
  • A reduction in force for “financial” reasons, which has the effect of laying off older workers because they are more experienced and therefore paid more
  • Terminating employees once they reach a certain age
  • Giving better assignments to younger workers, even though older workers are better qualified for those assignments
  • Promoting younger workers over more qualified and experienced older workers
  • Hiring of younger applicants over older applicants
  • Age-related comments based on stereotypes of older people

Reductions in Force

It is common for companies to to use a reduction in force to get rid of older workers who are paid more due to their experience and long-term employment. However, the law is clear that employers cannot use a reduction in force as an opportunity to discriminate, a point the California Supreme Court made clear in the case, Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317 (“Guz”). In Guz the Court held: “An employer’s freedom to consolidate or reduce its work force, and to eliminate positions in the process, does not mean it may use the occasion as a convenient opportunity to get rid of its [protected] workers.” (Id. at 358.) Even if a reduction in force is justified for economic reasons, this does not resolve whether the employer engaged in illegal discrimination in deciding which individual workers to retain and release. (Id.)

Bottom line, if older workers are affected more than other groups in the context of a reduction in force, that could be evidence of age discrimination.

Age discrimination can be difficult to prove and getting help from a skilled and experienced attorney is important. Los Angeles age discrimination lawyer Afshin Mozaffari is experienced with these types of cases and can guide you through the process of taking action against your employer. If you believe you are being discriminated against because of your age, contact Mozaffari Law at 323.696.0702 or for a confidential consultation.

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