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Oakland Age Discrimination Lawyers

Oakland Age Discrimination Lawyers

Usually, having a lot of work experience is a good thing. When people first enter the workforce, they often lack the years of experience requested by employers. On the flip side, employers sometimes push out or refuse to hire older employees with the precise experience they claim to seek.

If you have been treated differently at work because you are 40 or older, you may have a claim for age-based discrimination. Facing discrimination can leave you feeling humiliated and ashamed, but you do not have to accept mistreatment quietly. The legal team at King & Siegel LLP can help you decide the best course to move forward. Our team is made of elite, award-winning Oakland age discrimination attorneys with a deep commitment to helping employees. Contact us today to speak with an Oakland age discrimination lawyer!

What Laws Protect Me from Age Discrimination?

Both state and federal laws outlaw age discrimination in employment. Federally, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of age in employment. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is California’s equivalent law, covering employers with five or more employees. Both laws set a cutoff age of 40 years old or older. This means that age discrimination is illegal if you are over 40 years old. 

What Qualifies As Age Discrimination?

In general terms, the ADEA and FEHA outlaw discrimination related to the terms and conditions of employment, which can include age-based harassment. Employers are also forbidden from creating and enforcing policies with discriminatory effects in certain circumstances.

Terms and Conditions of Employment

Generally, discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment includes direct employment actions, like treating employees or potential employees differently with respect to:

  • Hiring, 
  • Firing, 
  • Layoffs,
  • Pay, 
  • Job duties, 
  • Promotions, 
  • Training, and
  • Benefits. 

However, the prohibition on discriminating in the terms and conditions of employment is not limited to only direct, tangible actions. In particular, age-based harassment can be so severe and pervasive that it affects the terms and conditions of someone’s employment.

Age-Based Harassment

Broadly, harassment includes repeated “unwelcome conduct” like:

  • Offensive jokes,
  • Mockery,
  • Use of slurs, 
  • Physical violence or threats of physical violence,
  • Use of offensive objects or photos, and
  • Interference with work performance.

An employee who is being harassed based on their age may have a legal claim for age discrimination regardless of who the harasser is. Employers are automatically liable for supervisor harassment and may be liable for harassment by coworkers and even customers. To be liable for the conduct of coworkers and customers, the employer must:

  • Have control over the harasser,
  • Know or have reason to know about the harassment, and
  • Fail to promptly correct the conduct.

Employers can sometimes avoid liability if the victim of the harassment fails to report it in circumstances where the employer did not know about the harassment and had no reason to discover it.

Policies Causing a Disparate Impact

In addition, employers can be liable for age discrimination if they create and enforce policies that have a disparate impact. Unlike most age discrimination claims, disparate impact claims do not require you to prove the employer had discriminatory intent. Instead, you need to prove that a policy negatively affects employees aged 40 or older as a group. An employer can avoid liability if they can provide a “reasonable factor other than age” as the basis for the policy.

How Do I File an Age Discrimination Complaint in California?

In California, the Civil Rights Department (CRD) handles complaints of age discrimination, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles complaints at the federal level. The CRD and EEOC have overlapping jurisdiction, meaning you can typically file with either agency. However, there are some exceptions: for example, federal employees must file with the EEOC or an internal EEO in their agency. An employment lawyer can help you determine which agency is right for your claims. Notably, you have 3 years to file a complaint based on the FEHA but only 300 days based on the ADEA, so where you fall within the statute of limitations can also inform which agency you should file with. 

You can file a complaint with either agency online. You must provide detailed information about the discriminatory conduct in issue, and the agency will investigate your claims. If it concludes discrimination occurred or was likely, it will attempt to help you resolve your claims. 

After the agency investigates, you can request a right-to-sue letter if the issue remains unresolved. You cannot file a lawsuit without a right to sue letter. With the letter in hand, you can file a lawsuit to prove your case separate from the agency process.

What Are the Remedies for Age Discrimination?

The remedies for age discrimination tend to focus on placing the victim in the position they would have been in had the discrimination not occurred. If you win an age discrimination case, you may be awarded the following: 

  • Back pay,
  • Front pay,
  • Compensatory damages,
  • Punitive damages, and
  • Attorney fees and case costs.

When possible, you may also seek more direct remedies, such as:

  • Being hired or reinstated,
  • Being promoted, 
  • Modifying job duties, or
  • Making policy changes.

Although the courts sometimes prefer reinstatement and similar corrective actions to awards of damages, they also take into account that returning to work at a place where you experienced discrimination is not always realistic or possible. This is especially true because lawsuits often take years to resolve, at which point you may have been out of the workforce for several years already.

King & Siegel LLP Can Help

If you have been treated differently at work because of your age, contactKing & Siegel LLP today. Our Oakland age discrimination lawyers can help you gather evidence and build a plan to move forward. We will fight for and with you to hold those who have wronged you accountable. We can assist you as you work through the CRD or EEOC complaint process, and if other processes fail to provide adequate resolution, we can help you file an Oakland age discrimination lawsuit to battle it out in court.

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