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Age Discrimination

After years of dedicated service, an employee should hope for job security or even promotion. Unfortunately, some employers prefer to fire or harass employees based on their age. Thankfully, California law protects employees from such discrimination or harassment.


The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees age 40 and over. An employer with 5 or more employees cannot discriminate against an employee based on their age. An employer cannot consider an employee’s age when they decide to hire, fire, promote, or demote an employee. An employer also cannot consider age when granting a pay raise. If an employer considers age when making these employment decisions, they may be subject to a lawsuit. An employee can file a lawsuit against their employer if they believe they have been subject to discrimination.

Employers often try to provide an alternative reason for age discrimination. An employer may question an employee’s work performance. The employer may state they are reducing their overall work force. The employer may simply say they are “pivoting in a new direction” when they terminate an employee. Despite these excuses, an employee can potentially still prove age discrimination. An employee can prove that the employer is using these excuses a pretense for age discrimination. For example, an employer may have a tendency to fire older employees and replace them with younger, less experienced employees. Or, an employer may have a history of demoting employees right before they reach retirement age. Employers cannot hide behind pretextual reasons for discrimination. During the course of the lawsuit, an employee has opportunities to prove their employees are discriminating against employees based on their age.


An employee may also suffer harassment due to their age. An employee can suffer harassment at the hands of their managers, their co-workers, or even third party vendors that do not work for the employer. If a coworker regularly calls an employee a derogatory term, or if a manager frequently states that they prefer younger employee’s way of thinking to an older employee’s, there may be a case of age harassment. Often, discrimination and harassment occur at the same time. An employee can file a lawsuit for both discrimination and harassment based on age. An employee may be entitled to monetary compensation for suffering such harassment.


Some employees decide to stand up against age harassment or discrimination. They may complain to other co-workers, managers, the human resources department, or even government agencies about the discrimination and harassment they face. Other times, and employee may be called to testify in another employee’s case against their employer.

Employers may choose to punish employees for complaints of discrimination or harassment based on age. An employer may choose to demote, cut pay or hours, or even fire an employee who speaks out against illegal practices. California law prohibits this type of punishment, called “Retaliation.” An employee may be entitled to monetary compensation for suffering such retaliation.

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Every case of age discrimination is different. If you feel like you suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliation at the hands of your employer based on your age, you should consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your potential case. These cases are subject to strict time limits, so you should not wait to file your case.

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