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Examples of Age Discrimination in the Los Angeles Workplace

Emanuel Shirazi

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protect employees from negative employment actions and harassment based on being an older employee. It’s important to know your employee rights as a California employee and recognize common examples of age discrimination to better protect yourself.

Common Examples of Age Discrimination in the Los Angeles Workplace

There are many ways that an employer may discriminate against an employee based on their age. California and federal laws protect employees from discrimination, including employees over the age of 40 from age-based discrimination. Unfortunately, this does not prevent it from occurring. Some of the most common forms of discrimination include:

  • Age-Based Harassment in the Workplace

Inappropriate actions, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s age can indicate age-based discrimination. Employers engage in harassment when they target their employees because they are older and give them greater amounts of work or less desirable work tasks. Coworkers can also engage in harassment and create a hostile work environment.

  • Encouraging Employees to Retire

Employers know that an employee can file a wrongful termination claim if the employee is fired because of their age. To avoid this, an employer may instead encourage or coerce employees who are older to retire, either through positive or negative actions. Requiring or forcing an employee to retire at a certain age is illegal. Employers may harass an employee, making them not want to continue working, or an employer may offer benefits for the employee to retire. These are forms of age-based discrimination.

  • Hiring Based on Age

It is illegal for employers to refuse to hire a job applicant solely based on age. If an employer disproportionately hires younger employees, this may be a sign of a discriminatory workplace. If an older job applicant was turned away because they do not meet the job’s requirements, this may be sufficient reason, but this must be in good faith and cannot be based on the individual’s age. Employers that refuse to hire older employees because they will have to pay them more are engaging in discrimination.

  • Isolating Older Employees

Discrimination occurs when older employees are excluded from work activities, meetings, or after-work events. Isolation can also be the literal separation of an older employee from their coworkers.

  • Demotion or Adjustment of Benefits

If an employer demotes older employees for seemingly no reason, this may be discrimination. Demotion may include lowered pay or lowered benefits. In most cases, employers must provide the same benefits to older employees that they do to all other employees. Adjusting an employee’s healthcare or disability benefits can also be considered disability discrimination.

  • Fewer Opportunities

Older employees may be given less opportunity to advance in their careers and be passed over for promotions, work opportunities, and projects. If an employer says that they want to give a project or promotion to younger employees because they don’t think another employee can handle it due to their age, this is discrimination.

Even if it isn’t said explicitly, employers who pass over older employees despite their experience and qualifications for the opportunity are likely engaging in discrimination. If an employer routinely treats older employees this way, this strengthens an age discrimination claim.

  • Eliminating Roles and Terminating Older Employees

Company terminations or layoffs that only focus on older employees are age discrimination. There may be a case for wrongful termination based on discrimination. Some employers may also eliminate a job role that an older employee holds to fire them under seemingly legal reasons and then create a new role for a younger employee with the same job duties.

  • Unfair Discipline or Negative Evaluations

Unreasonable disciplinary actions against older employees may be a form of harassment, or it may be used as a reason for termination. This is done by employers to avoid a discrimination-based wrongful termination claim. However, when there is no reason for these actions, or the actions make a larger issue out of a small mistake, it may be traced back to a discriminatory bias.


Q: What Is a Real-Life Example of Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

A: Employers and managers may favor younger employees for promotions, job opportunities, or leadership roles. Though this isn’t inherently illegal, it can be. If an older employee is more experienced and more qualified and is only passed over because of their age, this is age discrimination. Employers who state that they think older employees can’t handle the responsibility or understand the work because of their age are likely being discriminatory.

Q: What Is Not Considered Age Discrimination?

A: It is not considered age discrimination if an employer is following a predetermined and good-faith system of seniority. There are also narrow allowances for some employers to discriminate against employees based on age if it applies to all employees and relies on real job qualifications. If an employee’s age prevents them from effectively and safely completing their job, there may be reason to refuse applicants from employment. These requirements are very strict, however, and few employers and work environments qualify. If you have been discriminated against based on your age, discuss your situation with an employment attorney. They can help you determine whether your situation allows you to file a claim against the employer.

Q: How Do You Prove Age Discrimination in California?

A: You must prove the following to have a successful age discrimination claim:
  1. Age discrimination laws apply to the particular employer, employee, and workplace
  2. The employee was 40 years of age or older
  3. The employer took an employment action that negatively affected the employee or applicant
  4. The employer’s action was motivated by the employee’s age

Adverse employment actions include failing to hire, demoting, or terminating an employee. Evidence to help prove discrimination may include witnesses to the discrimination, coworkers or applicants who experienced the same treatment, and documentation of the employee’s work performance.

Q: What Qualifies as Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

A: Age discrimination occurs when an employer, manager, coworker, or other individual in the workplace discriminates against or treats an employee negatively due to their age. This is considered discrimination when the employee is 40 years old or older. Discrimination may include harassment through jokes or comments, hostile work environments, refusing to hire or promote, demoting, or even firing an employee.

Contact Shirazi Law Firm PC

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your age, you can file a discrimination claim. Contact Shirazi Law Firm, PC today to see if you have a valid claim.

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