Age Discrimination Lawyers Near You
King & Siegel’s experienced age discrimination lawyer can help you maximize your recovery, reclaim your career, and stand up to injustice.
Your Loyalty Should be Rewarded, Not Punished
Studies show that older workers are integral to successful companies. Their knowledge comes from experience; you cannot teach it in high school or college. Older workers often have served their employers for years, even decades, and frequently intend to stay until retirement.
For a variety of reasons, employers often undervalue older workers. This attitude sometimes stems from discriminatory assumptions about their adaptability or openness to change. Sometimes it stems from a desire to save money rather than paying for experience.
Whatever the cause, age discrimination remains common. 15% of the discrimination charges the federal government received in 2022 were charges of age-based discrimination.
We Can Help
If you are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you should call an age discrimination lawyer from King & Siegel LLP. We know what it means to lose a job that has been a pillar of your life and identity for decades. We are passionate about age discrimination cases because we have seen the impact of age discrimination on families, careers, and identities. Companies increasingly pour money into diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, yet they often leave older workers out of these efforts. Rather than celebrating experience, companies exclude older workers, devalue them, and cast them aside.
These patterns must change. We are here to help.
Our attorneys are resourceful and tenacious, skills that are necessary in age discrimination cases, which often require complex statistical and “comparator” evidence. We have mastery over this evidence and use it to prove your case. Our team also strives to understand you, your situation, and how your job loss has impacted you. This close relationship helps us articulate your emotional distress and claim the maximum damages allowed by law. Indeed, our dedication has led our clients to recover numerous multi-million dollar settlements in age discrimination cases.
Age Discrimination Trends
Age discrimination’s impact is profound—it’s more than just hurtful. Imagine the frustration of being sidelined for younger colleagues, enduring hurtful labels, and facing job loss despite years of loyalty.
You may not have to imagine it. This is the reality for many older Americans.
Age discrimination is becoming increasingly common. At the same time, economic uncertainty is growing, and fewer and fewer workers are financially ready for retirement. Many wrongfully terminated older workers struggle to find replacement jobs as their would-be employers have the same discriminatory attitudes as the employers that fired them. A 2017 study found that older workers in several industries had up to 47% lower callback rates for employment than younger workers.
In addition, many corporate employers resent “having” to pay for older workers’ benefits, which can be more expensive. Employers also try to avoid paying bonuses based on length of service or paying into retirement plans.
Sometimes, younger workers can bounce back from discrimination. This is much more challenging in cases of age discrimination. As a result, age discrimination cases require special attention and dedicated knowledge. They often require expert testimony about your future earning capacity and the damage done to it. You need the strongest age discrimination lawyers in your corner.
We are committed to fighting for economic justice for older workers.
If you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your age, King & Siegel LLP welcomes you to call our legal team today at (213) 465-4802 for a free review of your case.
What is Age Discrimination?
A survey found that over three-fifths of older workers reported experiencing age discrimination in the workplace. Almost a quarter of workers over age 45 reported being harassed with negative comments about their age by co-workers or supervisors. How do these workers prove their case?
What Qualifies as Age Discrimination at Work?
Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination against workers who are 40 and older. (While some workplaces may “discriminate” against younger workers, the law does not forbid it.)
So, what does age discrimination look like? It can take many forms. But some of the most common forms of age discrimination include:
- Being laid off, fired, or pressured to quit because of your age;
- Being passed over for promotions in favor of younger employees;
- Being replaced in a role by a younger worker who lacks experience;
- Being forced to train your replacement;
- Being offered inferior assignments and reduced benefits;
- Being demoted or having your pay cut;
- Being forced to work fewer hours;
- Being pressured to take unwanted leave; and
- Being denied transfer, medical leave, or other benefits to which you would otherwise be entitled.
Each of these examples qualifies as age discrimination under the right circumstances.
Proving Age Discrimination
To prove discrimination, a plaintiff must show that they suffered an “adverse employment action”—a termination, demotion, layoff, furlough, etc.—because of their age.
A plaintiff can prove that the adverse employment action was “because of” age by pointing to circumstantial evidence of discrimination, including:
- Comments about age, such as repeated references to retirement, getting old, or the age of younger workers;
- A pattern of firing, laying off, furloughing, demoting, or mistreating older workers while hiring or retaining younger workers;
- Comments about “culture” and “fit” or “energy,” which are often used as code words to hide age or disability discrimination and prioritize young, work-around-the-clock go-getters; and
- Suspicious timing relating to the adverse employment action. For instance, a termination just months before a long-term employee is eligible to receive a pension or other benefits can be evidence of unlawful age discrimination.
These are just a few examples of the types of evidence that can be used to prove age discrimination.
Check out our article on what you need to know about age discrimination against older women.
Age Discrimination in Mass Layoffs
A reduction in force (“RIF”), also known as a “mass layoff,” is an employer’s decision to terminate a group of employees in order to cut costs or reorganize. Mass layoffs are generally legal, provided your employer complies with any notice requirements under separate laws governing mass layoffs. However, employers sometimes use mass layoffs as a convenient excuse to terminate older or disabled workers.
Proving Age Discrimination in a Mass Layoff
To show that an employer has discriminated against older or disabled workers in conducting a mass layoff, an employee can rely on a variety of evidence, including comments by managers or a statistical imbalance between workers who were terminated and workers who were not. For instance, if a mass layoff causes the workforce’s average age to drop by 10 years, this can be evidence that the employer discriminated against older workers in conducting the mass layoff.
Disparate Treatment v. Disparate Impact Evidence
These examples of age discrimination in a mass layoff can be divided into two categories: 1) evidence of disparate treatment discrimination and 2) evidence of disparate impact discrimination. The EEOC relies on both kinds of proof to make determinations about illegal workplace activities.
Disparate treatment discrimination is intentional. This means an employer seeks to exclude or treat employees unequally because of their age or another protected characteristic. When facing a mass layoff, you might find proof of discriminatory intent in:
- An employer’s statements about age or age-based characteristics (e.g., gray hair);
- A history of the employer excluding older workers from professional opportunities;
- The wording of employer policies; or
- A history of the employer enforcing workplace rules against older workers but not younger workers who have committed the same infractions.
Sometimes, you have to dig deep to uncover an employer’s discriminatory motivations in a mass layoff, but we can help you find the proof that you need to make your case.
By contrast, sometimes an employer has a layoff policy or practice that is not intended to target older workers, but it targets them anyway. A policy like this can cause disparate impact discrimination. This is illegal, even where an employer did not intentionally discriminate.
For instance, a company may seek to terminate only employees who don’t have a particular credential even though employees without the credential perform just as well. If the credential in question was first issued 10 years ago, older employees are likely to be disproportionately affected by the layoff and may have a discrimination claim. To prove a case like this, you might need copies of your employer’s layoff policies and personnel records regarding everyone affected by the layoff. You are also likely to need complex statistical evidence. This is one reason you need an experienced age discrimination lawyer to bring layoff-related discrimination claims.
Older Workers Benefits Protection Act Disclosures
If your employer conducts a mass layoff and offers a severance to two or more older workers, they are required to provide disclosures under the Older Workers Benefits Protection Act (“OWBPA”) by listing:
- Information about who is covered by the mass layoff, including who is eligible and the time limits that apply to the layoff;
- The job titles and ages of all workers who were terminated as part of the mass layoff; and
- The job titles and ages of all workers in the workgroup who were not selected for the mass layoff.
Many severance agreements covertly include buried OWBPA notices. These often take the form as a grid or a list stating the job titles and ages of those in the “decisional unit.” If your employer has not provided you with an OWBPA notice, you should request one before signing away any rights.
If you are over 40, your employer must give you at least 45 days to consider the agreement and seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it. This is intended to give you time to consult a lawyer and evaluate whether your termination may have been discriminatory.
If you have received a severance offer and an OWBPA disclosure, we recommend that you contact our age discrimination attorney to review the severance and disclosure to evaluate whether age discrimination played a role in the layoff. If so, you may have a claim for age discrimination and wrongful termination.
Some older workers not only face discrimination but also run into persistent harassment or a hostile work environment based on their age. This is a claim separate from a claim of discrimination.
Any case where a supervisor or manager has directly created or simply allowed a negative environment to form that encourages or tolerates an offensive, abusive, or intimidating atmosphere in the workplace is illegal.
Age-related harassment in the workplace comes in various forms, often subtle but equally damaging. Picture this: coworkers making jokes about your age, dismissing your ideas as outdated, or constantly referring to you as the “old-timer” in a condescending tone. It might escalate to exclusion from meetings or social gatherings because you’re considered “out of touch.” Sometimes, it’s constantly questioning your ability to keep up with technology or adapt to new trends solely based on age. These behaviors might seem small individually, but together, they create a toxic environment that chips away at your confidence and dignity. Age-related harassment isn’t just about offensive remarks; it’s about the insidious ways in which age biases manifest, impacting your day-to-day work life and well-being.
A victim of age-related harassment can sue both the individual harasser and the company. While suing a harasser is not always necessary, this can have strategic advantages in employment cases, including allowing the plaintiff to select the most appropriate venue for their claims.
Age Discrimination Verdicts & Settlements
Juries and judges often recognize that age discrimination is particularly harmful to those who encounter it.
As older workers face layoffs or job terminations, their struggles extend further. Finding comparable reemployment becomes tougher, leading to significant economic setbacks, especially close to retirement. Studies show that older individuals encounter longer periods of unemployment compared to their younger counterparts. This economic impact affects savings and retirement plans, amplifying the gravity of age discrimination in the workplace.
Moreover, juries and judges recognize that it is unfair to penalize someone who dedicated themselves to a long and productive career with an employer. Recent age discrimination verdicts in California can exceed $5 million, showing that juries consider the serious injustice of terminating loyal workers because of their age.
Age discrimination cases can be challenging. The discrimination can often be subtle and requires analysis of statistical evidence of patterns of conduct. Not all employment attorneys can handle these challenging cases. To win, you need a focused, dedicated, and personalized approach.
King & Siegel LLP has significant experience litigating contested age discrimination cases on behalf of our clients. We understand that these cases are particularly high stakes. We are here to help you get justice. Contact us online or call us today.
- Disability Discrimination,
- Gender Discrimination,
- Parental Status Discrimination,
- Pregnancy Discrimination,
- Religious Discrimination,
- Race Discrimination, and
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination.
If you suffer unfair treatment at work, speak to us immediately about your options for taking legal action and recovering damages.
What Should You Do if You Are a Victim of Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination in the workplace is a pervasive problem. It can be difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove. If you believe you are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace, it is important to take swift action to protect your legal rights. Below, we discuss what you should do if your employer is discriminating against you based on age.
Reach Out to an Age Discrimination Lawyer
It’s important to reach out to an age discrimination lawyer as soon as you believe you are experiencing discrimination. They can advise you of your options and give you specific direction on the steps you need to take, such as documenting the discrimination or reporting it to your employer. A lawyer can also help you file a claim with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and pursue a lawsuit if appropriate.
If you believe you have been a victim of age discrimination, you’ll need to gather evidence. We suggest you keep a journal and document every instance of discrimination. This might include unequal treatment, offhand comments, failure to promote, termination, etc. Try to obtain witness statements from your fellow employees who may have seen the discrimination firsthand. Keep copies of any important documents that support your claim. For instance, keep records showing that your performance was strong if you expect to be terminated. This will make it easier to prove your case later on.
Consulting with an age discrimination lawyer before your termination can help you determine what documents are important to your claims.
You will want to keep organized records of the evidence you have gathered. Your records should include meeting notes, e-mails, and other correspondence relating to the discrimination. These records may serve important evidentiary purposes down the line.
Report the Discrimination to Human Resources
In most situations, it’s a good idea to report instances of discrimination to your human resources department. This gives the company the chance to fix the problem. Even if the company does not fix the problem, complaining to HR helps document the discrimination and strengthens your subsequent case.
Damages Awarded in Age Discrimination Cases
A jury or factfinder can award the following damages in age discrimination cases:
- Lost wages—prevailing plaintiffs may recover lost wages in all discrimination cases. The plaintiff may seek damages for a reasonable amount of time into the future; sometimes, this includes seeking damages up until a planned retirement or for the rest of your career.
- Lost benefits—the value of lost benefits is available to prevailing plaintiffs in age discrimination cases. This can include lost pension benefits, lost 401(k) appreciation, lost 401(k) match, the value of lost health insurance, the value of lost disability insurance, and more.
- Emotional distress—prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to emotional distress damages based on their pain and suffering. This can include abstract damages based on their own testimony or testimony from friends or family. It also includes the cost of seeking any mental health treatment necessary to heal from the discrimination.
- Punitive damages—punitive damages are available if the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted with malice, oppression, or fraud; and
- Attorney fees and costs—prevailing plaintiffs may recover the hourly fees their attorneys would have charged in an hourly-rate representation, as well as the reasonable costs of filing and litigating the case.
These are some types of damages that a factfinder can award in an age discrimination case. An age discrimination lawyer help you document and maximize your damages to increase your potential recovery.
What is the federal law prohibiting age discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects workers across America from age-based discrimination.
The ADEA doesn’t protect employees from every form of age discrimination. The ADEA only protects workers who suffer mistreatment for being 40 years old or older. Also, only employers with 20 employees or more are subject to legal actions initiated under the ADEA.
Under California law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) covers employers if they employ five or more workers.
How do you file a complaint for a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?
You can file a government complaint or a civil lawsuit to enforce your rights under the ADEA. But whatever legal route you choose, you must file a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first.
The EEOC investigates claims of employment discrimination and harassment and can order offending employers to pay damages to harmed workers and change their workplace policies. If you prefer to work out your employment grievances in civil court, you must first receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. An employee who works for a private employer has 180 days to file an EEOC charge. And federal employees have 45 days to initiate legal proceedings with an EEO Officer.
My employer is pressuring me to retire. Is this legal?
Under California law, it is generally illegal for an employer to force an employee to retire at a certain age. However, there are two exceptions: (1) for employees over 65 who have held a “bona fide executive or high policymaking position” for at least two years and are entitled to a minimum annual retirement benefit, and (2) for physicians over 70 employed by a professional medical corporation that mandates retirement.
In addition to formal policies that require retirement, an employer may break the law by harassing older workers about when they intend to retire. For instance, courts have found that repeated inquiries about retirement may constitute age-related harassment. Similarly, repeated inquiries about retirement may be evidence of discriminatory intent that support a discrimination claim.
If an employer is offering an early retirement or exit package to workers regardless of age – for instance, if an employer asks employees to volunteer for an exit package – they should tread carefully. Early retirement requests and early retirement benefit plans are legal only if the request is not motivated by the worker’s age or if early retirement is completely voluntary.
Is it necessary to reveal my age on a job application?
Employers are not prohibited under federal law from asking about your age. If an application asks for your date of birth, you should answer honestly, especially to avoid future discipline if your employer discovers a lie in your employment paperwork.
However, there is no need to volunteer information about your age in an application or interview. If an employer does not ask, you probably should not go out of your way to offer the information. Other telltale signs of your age during the interviewing process could include writing the year of your graduation on your resume or giving the exact number of years of experience you have with a particular skill. Once again, if your potential employer does not require this information, you might want to avoid including it in your application.
Can a business decline to hire me based on my age?
In general, no. If you are 40 or older, a potential employer cannot decline to hire you just because of your age. However, if the employer can prove that age is a bona fide occupational qualification, they could have legal grounds for cutting you from the application process. For instance, if you are over 65, have already worked for two years as an executive at a company, and are applying to change departments within the same company, that company could turn you down because of its legal, mandatory retirement policy for employees in your position. But you should consult one of our experienced age discrimination lawyers about the legality of any age-based actions your employer takes.