Several national reports show that there are actually more Baby Boomers in the workforce than ever before. These reports suggest that it is no longer the norm for workers to retire at age 65–unlike previous generations. With this trend, it is important to review the salient points of age discrimination for both employees and employers alike.
According to the EEOC, age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older. In general, the ADEA applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government. Lastly, age discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are both over 40.
Several EEOC cases highlight the prevalence of age discrimination and the cost employers can pay for violations. In October of last year, restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday agreed to pay $45,000 to settle an age bias lawsuit after it allegedly failed to hire a qualified applicant with over 20 years of relevant experience. Also, late last year, Montrose Memorial Hospital in Colorado paid $400,000 and furnished other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. Montrose violated federal law when 29 employees, aged 40 and older, were fired or forced to resign, the EEOC said. The longtime employees, many with 10 to 20 or more years of work history at the hospital, were fired for supposed performance deficiencies for which younger employees were treated more leniently. In November, the EEOC sued the McCready Foundation, a nursing home operator out of Baltimore, MD., for failing to promote a 53-year-old woman.
Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his or her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. Harassing an older worker because of age is also prohibited.
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA. ADEA protections also include advertisements and job notices, apprenticeship programs, pre-employment inquiries, and the provision of benefits.
Kingsley & Kingsley – Experienced California Employment Lawyers
It is important to remember that not all illegal age bias is blatant. Even something meant to be harmless, such as a question about future retirement plans or a comment about professional longevity, could be used against you. If you are a victim of age discrimination, the California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can help. Should you have questions about discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, call and speak to an experienced California lawyer toll-free at (818) 990-8300 or click here to contact us via email.