Suing Employer for Ageism in the Workplace
| Read Time: 4 minutes | Employment Law 101

Despite recent societal changes, thousands of employees each year continue to face types of workplace discrimination. One of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace is ageism, also referred to as age-based discrimination, which can significantly impact the lives and careers of workers who are victims of it.   

If you have faced ageism in the workplace and aren’t sure how to stand up for yourself, know you are not alone. The Los Angeles employment attorneys at King & Siegel LLP are dedicated to fighting for the rights of employees who have been wronged by their employers. Below, we describe the definition of age discrimination, the laws that prohibit it, the remedies available to wronged workers, and how our experienced, aggressive team of employment litigators can help you move forward. 

What Is Ageism?

Ageism describes discrimination based on someone’s age and is commonly directed toward older adults. While some employers may also “discriminate” against younger workers, ageism is only illegal when directed at workers over 40 years old. Put differently, the law only prohibits ageism when it is directed at older workers. 

While ageism may be more subtle than other types of discrimination, such as sexism or racism, it is nevertheless prohibited by the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and other state and federal laws. Moreover, ageism can have an even more devastating impact on victims than other types of discrimination, as older workers sometimes find themselves in a job market where they are unable to obtain comparable employment due to discrimination by hiring managers. 

What Protections Do Older Employees Have Against Ageism?

The ADEA prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older due to their age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment. It also prohibits harassing an employee or coworker because of their age.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) specifically prohibits employers from denying benefits to older employees. In passing the OWBPA, Congress recognized that the cost of providing benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those same benefits to younger workers, which could create a disincentive to hire older workers. 

In limited circumstances, an employer may be permitted to reduce certain benefits based on age, as long as the cost the employer incurs to provide those benefits to older workers is no less than the cost of providing the benefits to younger workers.

What Does Ageism Look Like in the Workplace?

Ageism in the workplace can come in many forms. Below are some examples: 

  • Excluding older individuals from certain job opportunities based on presumptions about their abilities or capacity to adapt to new roles,
  • Assuming older workers are less tech-savvy than their younger colleagues,
  • Favoring younger employees for leadership roles and promotions based on their age as opposed to merit,
  • Subjecting older workers to jokes or derogatory remarks regarding their age,
  • Offering lower salaries or benefits packages to older workers as compared to younger employees,
  • Being pressured to take unwanted leave, and 
  • Being fired or pressured to quit due to your age. 

If you have experienced these or other similar situations, you may have a legal claim against your employer for ageism in the workplace. 

Of course, each case is different, and there are many other ways in which ageism in the workplace may manifest. If you have questions about whether what you have experienced constitutes age-based discrimination, speak with an experienced Los Angeles employment law attorney to discuss the facts and circumstances of your situation in more detail. 

King & Siegel LLP: Your Trusted Employment Law Attorneys

Proving age discrimination is often challenging because of the subtle nature of many claims. For instance, many employers do not use age-related slurs or insults; instead, they simply ignore or write off older workers, instead focusing their efforts on promoting younger workers. \

This dynamic means that you need excellent attorneys to prevail in most age discrimination cases. Some age discrimination cases require expert witnesses and complex statistical analyses. The laws regarding these types of evidence can be complicated. 

At King & Siegel LLP, our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys strongly believe that all employees should be treated fairly in the workplace and should be free to make a living free from discrimination. We fight exclusively for employees who have been wronged and never represent employers, so you can feel confident knowing that your case will be in the hands of someone who understands and will fight zealously for your interests as an employee. We have recovered multiple seven-figure settlements on behalf of long-term employees who were discriminated against because of their age.   

Contact us for a free case review to discuss your case and see how our team can help you move forward today. 


Do I Have to Be a Certain Age to Pursue an Employee Ageism Lawsuit Against an Employer? 

Under the ADEA, there are specific protections against ageism that apply to individuals who are 40 years of age or older. Thus, if you are under the age of 40 and feel you have been discriminated against based on your age, you will not qualify for a lawsuit against your employer under the ADEA. Nevertheless, consider speaking with an attorney to discuss your options to see what other options, if any, may be available to you. 

Can I Pursue a Lawsuit Against an Employer for Workplace Ageism? 

In short, yes. You can certainly pursue a lawsuit against your employer for ageism in the workplace if certain conditions exist. That said, doing so is not always easy and requires sufficient evidence to prove your claims. Thus, if you believe you have suffered ageism in the workplace, consider speaking with qualified legal representation as soon as practicable to discuss your case and options and learn more about what you can do to best protect yourself and your rights moving forward. 

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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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