Los Angeles Age Discrimination Attorneys
Your Loyalty Should be Rewarded, Not Punished
Studies show that older workers are integral to successful companies. They have a wealth of knowledge in their fields and have gained insights that cannot be taught in high school or college. They often have served their employers for years, even decades, and often intend to stay until retirement.
Unfortunately, 15% of the discrimination charges that the federal government received from California in 2022 were charges of age-based discrimination.
WE CAN HELP
If you have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, your next move should be calling an age discrimination attorney in Los Angeles from King & Siegel LLP. Our experienced attorneys have received the best education and training in the nation, and we have put our skills to good use while winning millions for mistreated employees in the State of California. Why hire us? Hire us because:
- We have won multiple awards from the legal community for our advocacy,
- We are compassionate counselors and aggressive advocates,
- We provide personalized legal services to best fit each client’s unique needs,
- We level the playing field between employees and their employers, and
- Clients pay only if we win.
When you hire an attorney from King & Siegel LLP, you hire an attorney who wants the best for you and knows how to get it.
AGE DISCRIMINATION TRENDS
Being discriminated against because of your age can be devastating. It can be demeaning to be pushed aside for younger co-workers, to be referred to using derogatory terms, and to have your loyalty rewarded with termination.
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 Los Angeles 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.
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.
HOW TO PROVE AGE DISCRIMINATION IN A 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 average age of the workforce to drop by 10 years, this can be evidence that the employer discriminated against older workers in conducting the mass layoff.
DISPARATE TREATMENT EVIDENCE VS. DISPARATE IMPACT EVIDENCE
The above examples for proof 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 that 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.
In some cases, 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 that is illegal, even though an employer did not intend to discriminate.
For instance, a company may seek to terminate only employees who don’t have a particular type of degree despite the fact that employees without that degree perform just as well. If the degree in question came into existence only 10 years ago, older employees would likely be disproportionately affected by the layoff and could have a discrimination claim against their employer. 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.
If your employer is conducting a mass layoff and offering a severance to older workers that requires them to waive their age discrimination claims, they are required to provide disclosure 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.
With a severance such as this, your employer must also give you at least 45 days to consider the agreement and seven days to revoke the agreement after signing. If you have received a severance offer and an OWBPA disclosure, we recommend that you contact our Los Angeles 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. This could involve circumstances where jokes, slurs, or derogatory comments have been made about someone’s age. When this happens, the individual harasser and the company itself can be held liable.
Age Discrimination Verdicts & Settlements
Juries and judges often recognize that age discrimination is particularly harmful to those who encounter it. Not only are older workers more likely to be laid off or terminated, but they are also less likely to find comparable reemployment, meaning that they often suffer significant economic harm as they are nearing retirement.
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 require analysis of statistical evidence of patterns of conduct. Not all lawyers are equipped to handle these challenging matters. To have a successful case, you need the dedicated, aggressive approach of our employment law attorneys.
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 some of the things that you should do if you are being discriminated against at work.
Reach Out to an Attorney
It’s important to reach out to an attorney 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 that you have been treated unfairly due to your age, you’ll need to gather evidence of the discrimination. We suggest you keep a journal and document every instance that contributed to the discrimination. Further, try to get witness statements from your fellow employees who may have seen the discrimination firsthand. Make sure to keep copies of any important documents that support your claim.
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 will strengthen your subsequent case.
Damages Awarded in Age Discrimination Cases
Some of the damages that may be awarded in an age discrimination case include:
- Lost wages—if a victim can prove they have lost income due to the discrimination, they may be entitled to compensation for those lost wages;
- Lost benefits—if a victim can prove they lost employment benefits as a result of the discrimination, the victim may be entitled to compensation for this;
- Emotional distress—often, age discrimination causes emotional harm, and the victim is entitled to seek compensation for therapy and other mental health treatments; and
- Attorney fees and costs—if the victim prevails in their case, they will likely be able to recover the costs of litigation and their attorney fees.
These are just some of the types of damages that can be awarded in age discrimination cases. An employment lawyer can explain the above and other types of damages in more detail.
What is the federal law for age discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects workers across America from age-based discrimination.
Who is protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?
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.
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 ASKED ME TO RETIRE EARLY. IS IT LEGAL?
It depends on why your employer asked. In general, asking an employee to retire early because of their age is illegal. But suppose you are being asked to retire early because you engaged in workplace misconduct, or your employer has a mandatory retirement policy for those who are 65 or older and have worked for at least two years in a true executive or policymaking position. If you fit that description, the request for retirement could be legally sound. An age discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles from King & Siegel LLP can review the facts of your situation and help you assert your rights.
IS IT NECESSARY TO REVEAL MY AGE ON AN APPLICATION OR IN A JOB INTERVIEW?
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.
IS IT OKAY FOR A BUSINESS TO TURN ME DOWN FOR A JOB 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 Los Angeles age discrimination lawyers about the legality of any age-based actions your employer takes.
Can an employer legally ask someone to retire early?
An employer can ask an employee to retire early, but the employer must tread lightly with an early retirement request. 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 for the employee.
Can a company force you to retire early?
A company that requires an employee to retire early because of their age violates the law.