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San Diego Age Discrimination and Harassment Lawyer

The older members of the workforce deserve dignity and praise for their hard work and equal opportunity at employment. Yet, despite their efforts, some employers see the older workforce as a group they can take advantage of. Thankfully, legislators passed laws prohibiting employers from discriminating or harassing people based on age. Both federal and state laws recognize that older employees deserve basic rights that employers cannot encroach upon. Even so, some employers trick their employees or falsify records to prevent being caught.


Even though laws exist to protect employees from discrimination based on certain protected characteristics, many dedicated employees who have dedicated the majority of their working years to their company and career still report experiencing age discrimination. Discrimination can be based on the mistaken belief that older workers’ benefits are more expensive, cannot adopt to new processes, and other reasons not protected by the law.

Age discrimination claims are complex. Some older employees would rather be non-confrontational after years of relying upon a job. At Walker Law, P.C., we are here to assure you that you do have the right to stop your employer from discriminating against you. Our San Diego age discrimination and harassment lawyers will fight furiously for the justice you deserve. Call us today for your free consultation.

Federal and California Age Discrimination Laws

Employers are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of age under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Act protects workers 40 years of age and older from age-based employment discrimination. The law applies to employers with at least 20 employees.

In California, the laws apply to even more employers. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California governs employers with five or more employees. As a result, the FEHA has the potential to cover more cases of age discrimination than the ADEA.

The Scope of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Under the ADEA, employers are prohibited from treating employees aged 40 and up differently based on their age in the following areas:

  • Workplace conditions
  • Procedures for hiring
  • Compensation
  • Job responsibilities
  • Employment conditions

A hostile work environment is also prohibited under federal law, as is allowing harassment to result in adverse employment decisions against an employee.

The ADEA also expressly prohibits employers from denying benefits to employees 40 and older. In some cases, an employer may reduce age-based benefits, but only if the cost to the employer of providing these benefits to older employees is less than the cost of providing the same benefits to their younger workers.

Additional Provisions Under FEHA

FEHA also includes a separate, specific prohibition on age-based employee harassment. This means that employers cannot create or allow the creation of an intimidating, offensive, or abusive work environment that interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their duties. Some examples include:

  • Derogatory or offensive remarks or statements about someone’s age
  • Slurs
  • Jokes

This not only creates a valid claim for age discrimination, but it may also allow the victim to file a separate lawsuit for age-based harassment. In the case of a harassment claim, both the harasser and the victim’s employer may be held liable for damages.

Examples of Age Discrimination and Harassment

Age discrimination is not always blatantly obvious. For instance, a company may attempt to fire an older employee by creating an uncomfortable environment through a pattern of harassment in the hopes that the employee will simply resign. As a result, companies might have a difficult time detecting these subtle signs of harassment. Employers may discriminate against employees based on their age in the following ways, but are not limited to:

  • Refusing to hire someone because of their age
  • Refusing to promote an employee because of their age
  • Employee termination based on age
  • Receiving poor performance evaluations because of your age
  • Making derogatory or offensive remarks about a person’s age in
    order to foster a hostile work environment
  • Hiring practices that favor younger workers
  • Being left out or isolated at work, as well as being overlooked for
    difficult work assignments
  • Being forced to take an early retirement
  • Being subjected to unjust disciplinary actions
  • Younger employees are given more opportunities for learning and
    training than older employees

Taking Legal Action Against Age-Based Discrimination

Employers may discriminate against employees based on their age in a variety of ways, including those listed above. To sue under California law, an employee must first file a claim with the California Department of Employment and Housing.

Under the ADEA or FEHA, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show the following elements are met:

  • The employer has a duty under an applicable anti-discrimination law.
  • At the time of the alleged age discrimination, the employee was 40 or
  • The actions of the employer had a negative impact on the employee.
  • The employer made the decision based on the employee’s age.

Typically, only an employee can file an age discrimination lawsuit. However, job applicants are also protected under California law. An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant because of their age. Independent contractors are not protected under federal law, but they may have a claim under state laws prohibiting age-based harassment.

When age is a factor in a negative employment action, most bad actors refuse to admit their discriminatory intent. Employers and supervisors frequently use “pretextual“ justifications for their actions, such as poor employee performance or budget cuts. Victims must usually rely on indirect evidence to prove their case, which raises suspicions, inconsistencies, or contradictory actions indicating that age was the true motivator for their decision. For example, if an older employee is not given additional training while younger employees are, and is then fired for poor job performance, the reason for the termination can be argued as pretext.

Contact Walker Law, P.C. Today

Older workers who are laid off find it extremely difficult to find a new employer. Age-based discrimination can severe consequences on the livelihood of hardworking individuals. At Walker Law, P.C., our attorneys do not take these claims lightly and will do everything possible to hold your employer responsible for their improper treatment. Call our San Diego age discrimination and harassment attorneys today so we can fight for the justice you deserve.

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