California employees are protected from discrimination based on their age at both the federal and state level. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, is a federal law that protects employees age 40 and older from discrimination in pre-employment and employment activities. Some states have further age discrimination protections that are even stricter than the ADEA regarding employer treatment of older employees.
The ADEA applies to all employers with at least 20 employees, as well as government agencies and employment agencies. It does not apply, however, to those in the military, those elected into office or independent contractors. The act prohibits employers from requiring or preferring a specific age in job advertisements and recruiting activities, conducting training only for employees under a certain age limit, retaliating against employees who pursue age discrimination charges or force any employee to retire because of their age.
Additionally, employers are not allowed to implement any policies that would have an unduly harsh impact on older employees relative to younger employees. Such policies appear on their face to be unrelated to a worker's age, but in effect make things much more difficult on older employees. Employers in such situations must establish that the policy was based on another reasonable factor than employee age. Finally, employers may not limit or deny an employee's participation in a benefit plan based on their age. Essentially, they are not allowed to reduce benefits granted to older workers or stop their coverage for age-related reasons.
If an employee feels that their benefits or employment status have been negatively impacted based on their age, they may be able to pursue a legal claim to enforce their protections against discrimination.
Source: AARP.org, "Age Discrimination Fact Sheet," accessed on May 24, 2015