In today’s competitive job market, age discrimination remains a pervasive issue that impacts the professional lives of many. The Bay Area and the city of Oakland, renowned for its diversity and innovation, are not immune to this challenge. Unfortunately, age discrimination persists in various industries, casting a shadow on equal employment opportunities for older workers. However, both state and federal laws protect workers against such discrimination.
Learn more about age discrimination, the laws that govern it, and when to call the Oakland age discrimination lawyers at King & Siegel LLP for help.
What Is Age Discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age. It can happen at any stage of the employment process, from hiring to job assignments to termination. Often subtle, this discriminatory behavior can be deeply damaging, affecting one’s career trajectory, financial stability, and emotional well-being. Knowing the signs of such discrimination and the laws that protect workers can help employees prevent discrimination and pursue legal action when necessary.
Laws That Protect California Employees Against Age Discrimination
Both federal law and California law prohibit discrimination based on age.
Federal: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Enacted in 1967, the ADEA protects employees aged 40 or older from discrimination in any aspect of the employment process. It prohibits age-based bias related to hiring, firing, promotions, training, layoffs, compensation, benefits, and job assignments. It applies to employers who employ at least 20 employees on a regular basis within the current or prior calendar year. Specifically, the law prohibits:
- Discrimination during the employment process,
- Specifying age preference or limitations,
- Denying benefits to older employees, and
- Requiring mandatory retirement.
There are some exceptions to these rules. Mandatory retirement is permitted if it is based on something other than age, such as skills, qualifications, or job performance. Employers may also justify age as a requirement for a job if age is essential for the role’s performance, known as a bona fide occupational qualification. Lastly, employers are allowed to provide different benefits or terms based on seniority as long as they don’t intentionally discriminate based on age.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
FEHA is a California state law that supplements federal protections provided by the ADEA and the EEOC. Under the law, employers cannot discriminate in employment situations based on various factors, including race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and age. Unlike the ADEA, California’s law applies to employers with five or more employees, offering protections for workers employed by small businesses. FEHA prohibits unfair treatment in hiring, firing, promotions, wages, and working conditions. It emphasizes reasonable accommodations for disabilities and mandates employers to prevent harassment and discrimination.
Signs of Age Discrimination
Recognizing signs of age discrimination is pivotal in addressing the issue and preserving your rights. Some indicators may include:
- Preference for younger candidates in job advertisements or during recruitment processes;
- Denial of training programs or promotions based on age; and
- Jokes, derogatory remarks, or exclusionary behavior targeting older employees;
- Isolating or excluding older employees;
- A sudden negative change in feedback from an employer; and
- Receiving fewer job benefits than younger employees.
While some actions or words may be clearly discriminatory, others may be a little more subtle. Identifying and documenting such instances is the first step toward seeking legal recourse.
When Is an Oakland Age Discrimination Lawsuit Necessary?
Unfortunately, these instances highlight the power imbalance between employers and employees. Employers simply have more resources, such as legal expertise, institutional support, and funds, while employees face hurdles in accessing evidence and navigating a complex legal process. This is why having an experienced age discrimination attorney on your side that you can trust is paramount.
If you’ve experienced age discrimination in the workplace, seeking the advice of legal counsel is pivotal to protecting your rights. Be sure to gather as much documentation as you can, such as emails, performance reviews, or witness statements, that may suggest age discrimination. Then, call a California employment law attorney. An experienced lawyer can assess your situation, advise you on your legal rights, be your guide through potential lawsuits or other legal action, and represent your interests to seek fair compensation.
Trust the Oakland Age Discrimination Attorneys at King & Siegel LLP
If you think you’ve experienced age discrimination at work, you have legal rights and don’t need to tackle the issue alone. At King & Siegel LLP, we are employment law professionals with years of experience representing employees in the Bay Area and throughout California. We know how daunting it can be to face the litigation process, and we are here to walk you through every step while being your legal advocate. To set up a consultation, call us or fill out our online contact form.