Workplaces in California, and across the country, have a responsibility to treat their workers fairly and to not discriminate against any employees based on their membership in a federally protected class. These classes include race, gender, religion and age.
Age discrimination is present when an adverse or unfair employment action is taken against an employee that is 40 years old or older. Protections against this form of discrimination are based on the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as well as state law. The act applies to government agencies and companies with 20 or more employees. The act prohibits discrimination against older employees, but does not address situations that favor older employees at the expense of younger employees.
Based on this overview, workers over the age of 40 may wonder what actions may demonstrate age discrimination in the workplace. In general, acts related to hiring or firing, layoffs, compensation, benefits and promotions that are based on age and detrimental to older workers fall under the umbrella of age discrimination. Situations where employers retaliate against older employees for challenging unfair benefits arrangements, where employees are required to retire at a specific age, or where age is made a necessary qualification of their employment or promotion without any legitimate cause often indicate that an employee has been discriminated against based on their age.
Workers that find themselves in any of these situations should understand the protections afforded them under the ADEA and assert these rights as applicable. An employment law attorney can assist with this process and work to see that they are treated fairly and based on their performance.
Source: Workplace Fairness, "Age Discrimination," accessed on Oct. 18, 2015