The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prevent companies from discriminating against those employees and applicants who are over 40 years old. Age discrimination in the workplace is prevalent; however, sometimes, it can be difficult to prove. Particular circumstances of age discrimination in the workplace become apparent when the employee:
…belongs to a protected class (In this case, age. A person over 40 years old)
…was the victim of an adverse employment action (dismissal, suspension, dismissal from promotion or change to a lower-ranking position)
…can prove that other employees outside of their protected class received more favorable treatment, even when they are on equal footing.
These are some indicators of age discrimination. However, they may seem a bit general. If you are still unsure, try answering the following questions:
- Were you treated differently than someone with the same experience, qualifications, and/or education but younger than you?
- Did managers or supervisors regularly make rude or derogatory comments directed at your age or someone your age? For example, “Older employees have their habits and are bad managers.”
- Do you feel that you are being treated in an unusual, shocking, unfair, or harsh way?
- Does your employer have a history of showing bias towards older people?
- Are there remarkably few employees your age in your workplace?
- Have you noticed other employees your age being placed in lower-ranking positions?
- Have you heard other employees your age complain of discrimination, particularly from the supervisor or manager who took an adverse action against you?
- Are there statistics that show favoritism towards people under 40 years of age?
- Did your employer violate company policy with the way they treated you?
- Does your employer retain less qualified employees just because they are under 40?
If you answered “Yes” to several of the questions above, you could claim that your protected class status (age) caused the adverse employment action, and you may have a discrimination case on your hands.