Walnut Creek Age Discrimination Lawyer
Employment discrimination is usually discussed in terms of characteristics like race or gender. But many people do not realize that age discrimination is also against the law. Indeed, both federal and California state law protects anyone from being fired on account of their age if they are at least 40 years old.
Age discrimination is often subtle. Employers are often quite skilled at masking age discrimination behind a seemingly-legitimate business reason. But if you suspect that you have been fired, demoted, or otherwise treated unfavorably at work because you are 40 or older, the Walnut Creek age discrimination lawyers at Venardi Zurada, LLP, are here to help you.
What Constitutes Age Discrimination in the Workplace?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is the federal statute that protects workers 40 or older. Its state counterpart is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under FEHA, age is treated like any other protected category of worker. This means an employer can no more discriminate against a worker because they are 55 then they could because they are female or Hispanic.
To prove age discrimination, a worker needs to prove (1) they were at least 40 years old and (2) their age was considered as a factor in conferring or denying an employment benefit. Since age discrimination is often not overt–few employers are reckless enough to admit they make employment decisions based on age–you can still prove an illegal act occurred through more subtle means.
Some hypothetical examples of this more subtle form of age discrimination include:
- An employer decides to cut payroll by firing its longest-tenured employees, all of whom happen to be over the age of 40.
- An employer openly promotes a “youthful” corporate culture through its hiring and promotion practices.
- An employer forces employees to take retirement upon reaching a certain age.
- Managers make constant jokes about an older employee’s age.
- Managers start assigning additional duties to older employees in an effort to get them to quit or retire.
- When an employee complains about possible age discrimination, they are subject to retaliation from management.
Fighting Age Discrimination
If you suspect that you have been a victim of age discrimination, the law requires you first file a complaint with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agencies that enforce state and federal discrimination laws respectively. The agency receiving the complaint will then conduct its own investigation and determine if there is an apparent violation of the law.
The agency can either take direct action against the employer, or close the investigation and issue you a “right-to-sue” letter, which authorizes you to file your own lawsuit. If you ultimately prevail, the employer who committed age discrimination can be ordered to pay you damages, including back pay and lost income and compensation for your emotional distress.
Before you file a complaint, however, it is always best to first speak with an experienced Walnut Creek employment lawyer who can walk you through the process. Contact Venardi Zurada, LLP, today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team. If we are able to take your case, you will not be responsible for any legal fees or expenses until we recover damages on your behalf.