Discrimination based on a person’s age, as long they are 40 years old or older, is unlawful. Age discrimination can be obvious, for example in the form of comments made about the person’s age, an employer’s stated desire to higher younger employees, or continued questions or pressure about when the employee is going to retire. It can also be less obvious, for example in the form of layoffs that disproportionately impact older workers.
Our law firm has successfully brought age discrimination cases against private and public employers.
Under California law, in order to maintain an age discrimination claim, the employee must be 40 years or older. Unfortunately, California law doesn’t protect against age discrimination against employees who are younger than 40.
While people younger than 40 cannot maintain age discrimination claims, someone who is 40 years old or older can maintain a claim even if the person they are comparing themselves to is also 40 or older. For example, a 65 year old may have a claim if they were laid off because their “position was eliminated” where the company immediately hires a 45 year old replacement for that exact same position.
Direct evidence, like negative comments about the person’s age, can be used to prove an age discrimination claim. Usually age discrimination claims don’t have direct evidence and need to be proved by circumstantial evidence.
California has adopted the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis. As part of this analysis, the employee must show a reasonable inference of age discrimination. An employee can begin to meet this threshold by showing that they were satisfactorily performing their job and that they were replaced by a significantly younger person. This approach is slightly different than federal law. Under federal law, the fact that the employee was replaced by a significantly younger worker is not a proper element of the McDonnell Douglas prima facie case. O’Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp. (1996) 517 US 308, 312, 116 S.Ct. 1307, 1310.
Even if the employee can make out a prima facie case for age discrimination, their work isn’t done. They still need to show that the conduct was intentional. The employer will have an opportunity to offer its reasons for the decision and the employee will need to show that those reasons just don’t add up.
If you have been discriminated against because of your age, Coyle Browne Law is available for a free consultation. To begin this process, please contact us by calling or texting 800-421-2594 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While not required for an initial consultation, it is helpful to prepare in advance:
The specific facts and any records about the incident(s), including the name and contact information of the person or entity you believe harmed you (if known);
The names and contact information of any witnesses (if known); and
Copies of any documents or other evidence related to your situation.