How to Prove Age Discrimination in Hiring Process
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The AARP reports that 78% of older workers either saw or experienced age discrimination in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those same workers expressed interest in learning new skills and jobs yet were largely denied those opportunities or felt they experienced more roadblocks than their younger counterparts. 

In this article, the King & Siegel LLP team discusses the laws against age discrimination and how to prove age discrimination in the hiring process. We are fierce advocates for workers who experience disparate treatment in the workplace and in the hiring process because of age.

What Are the Laws Against Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process?

Workers and applicants have the right to seek employment and a fair opportunity to get a job, regardless of age. To that end, governments at the state and federal levels have laws in place to protect workers against discrimination and provide recourse in the unfortunate event that they are mistreated because of their age. 

Federal Laws

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees because of age if the person is 40 years old or older. The law applies to businesses and private employers (e.g., non-government jobs) with 20 or more employees and, in many circumstances, to federal and state agencies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing these and other anti-discrimination laws at the national level. 

Additionally, the U.S. Congress passed the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act of 2021 (POWADA), which provides enhanced legal protections for workers seeking to file a discrimination claim. In the past, workers had to prove that their age was the sole or primary factor leading to them being fired or passed over for a younger applicant. POWADA does away with this standard, requiring claimants to prove only that age was a motivating factor. 

California Laws

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects applicants and workers from age discrimination in the hiring process. Under FEHA, it is illegal for an employer with five or more employees to treat an applicant or employee adversely because of their age. These protections extend to applicants and employees 40 years of age or older when the discriminatory practice occurred.

California’s Civil Rights Department enforces California’s anti-discrimination laws and oversees disputes between workers and employers. California’s anti-discrimination laws apply to public and private businesses and employers, except for non-profit religious organizations or the federal government. 

What Is Considered Age Discrimination Under the Law?

Age discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee experiences disparate treatment because of their age. Additionally, if an employee or applicant experiences an adverse employment action because of their age, this may constitute age discrimination. 

What Is Disparate Treatment?

The ADEA prohibits disparate treatment regarding age in the hiring and employment process. But what constitutes disparate treatment?

Disparate treatment is intentionally treating someone differently because of a protected characteristic they possess, such as their age. For example, it is generally illegal to systematically disregard the resumes of people who are 40 years or older. Similarly, it is often illegal to terminate older workers while retaining younger workers.

What Other Practices Do the Anti-Discrimination Laws Prohibit?

The ADEA and other civil rights laws also forbid employers from putting into place practices, job requirements, or other initiatives that, while neutral on their face, have a disparate impact on people 40 years of age or older. Examples of such practices include unjustifiably adding a high lifting and mobility requirement to the job description, which may be more challenging for people over 40 to meet. These practices create an unnecessary barrier for applicants to have a fair chance at being hired. 

How to Prove Age Discrimination in the Hiring Process

To prove age discrimination in the hiring process, you must show that:

  • You applied for a position or promotion; 
  • The employer is a qualified employer under state or federal law; 
  • You met the qualifications for the job; 
  • You were not hired for the role; and 
  • Your age was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision not to hire or promote you. 

Evidence you can use to support your age discrimination includes:

  • Documentary evidence (such as an email, text, or letter); 
  • The circumstances surrounding the employer’s decision (e.g., hiring a younger worker instead); and
  • Statements made by the interviewers.

Our age discrimination attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to support your discrimination claim. We understand the system and the tactics that employers use to hide discriminatory practices and can help you fight against them. 

King & Siegel LLP: California Age Discrimination Attorneys Fighting for Plaintiffs

Our team of top-tier advocates fights against businesses and corporations of all sizes who wrongfully discriminate against applicants and employees because of their age. We believe everyone deserves a fair opportunity to work, and those who subject their workers and applicants to unfair treatment and harassment should be held accountable. Julian Burns King worked at several large litigation firms, helping to recover over $750 million on behalf of plaintiffs, before founding King & Siegel LLP. Since the Firm was founded in 2018, we have recovered more than $60 million for plaintiffs in employment cases. If you or your loved one were discriminated against because of your age, call our team today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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Julian Burns King graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and founded King & Siegel in 2018. As head of the Firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas, she champions the rights of working parents and victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers annually since 2018 and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of her clients.

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