Who Is Protected?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 shields people who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on their age. Under this federal law, employers are forbidden from discriminating against an older applicant or employee solely because of their age when hiring or firing, offering compensation and benefits, or deciding on promotions, job assignments and training opportunities. In addition, the law prohibits retaliation against an employee who files charges of age discrimination or participates in an investigation of such charges.
The ADEA does not protect people under the age of 40, and it only applies to companies with 20 or more employees. There are also other exceptions. Workers in “high policymaking positions” who are eligible to receive a pension worth $44,000 or more are not covered. Firefighters, pilots, police officers and some federal employees may have clauses making them exceptions in their employment contracts. In addition, professions like acting or modeling where a job may require an employee of a specific age to play a role are also exempt.
Age Discrimination Statistics
How pervasive is age discrimination in the workplace? The statistics are sobering:
- In 2016, more than 20,800 complaints of age discrimination were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- When asked if age discrimination was present in today’s workplace, 57 percent of men and 72 percent of women answered in the affirmative.
- Nearly 65 percent of workers surveyed say that they have either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
What Does Age Discrimination Look Like?
What does age discrimination look like in the workplace? Age discrimination can take many forms:
- Not being hired. Sometimes, employers make it difficult for mature employees to get their foot in the door. For example, an online job application might require an applicant’s birthdate but limit the years available to choose from.
- Being passed over for a promotion. When older employees with equal or better qualifications are passed over for a promotion in favor of a younger employer, age discrimination may to be blame.
- Receiving poor performance reviews. Employers will sometimes cloak their discriminatory behavior by unfairly rating an older employee’s performance poorly. If an employer makes age-related comments, dings an older employee for failure to take on new projects or an inability to embrace new technology, or holds them to higher standards than their younger coworkers, age discrimination might be at work.
- Being terminated. If policy changes or layoffs lead to the firing of older employees while younger employers remain on the job, the employer may be engaging in age discrimination.
Do I Need to Hire an Age Discrimination Lawyer?
Employment discrimination cases are often difficult to prove, and age discrimination is no exception. It is not enough to prove that you were treated unfavorably or that your age was a factor in your employer’s behavior. You must prove that your age was the deciding factor in the unfavorable treatment that you were subjected to. In many cases, building a persuasive case involves piecing together direct or circumstantial evidence, documenting a pattern of behavior, or sorting through a massive amount of data. An experienced age discrimination attorney has the expertise and resources to help you evaluate the merits of your claim, explore your options, develop an effective strategy and build a solid case for your claims.
When you need the assistance of a skilled age discrimination lawyer, turn to Rizio Liberty Lipinsky. We are employment lawyers with decades of experience in serving as aggressive advocates for the people we represent, and we delight in putting our expertise to work for working Californians. Our successful track record makes it clear that we welcome challenging cases and know what it takes to win against tough opponents. How can we help you? Contact our San Bernardino office today to schedule a free consultation to find out.