Federal laws and California laws do not permit age discrimination against people age 40 and older in the workplace. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination in a business with 20 or more employees. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) applies to employers with five or more employees.
Both acts prohibit discrimination in relation to:
- Job assignments and responsibilities
- Terms, benefits, and privileges of employment
- Work conditions
- Hiring and dismissing employees
The Hiring Process
Job listings cannot legally require an age restriction. Jobs are expected to be open to people of any age group or ethnicity. Some jobs may list certain necessary physical conditions, degrees, credentials, experience, and other requirements. A job opening may be listed as “entry level” that indicates no experience necessary. Other listings may require several years of experience in a given field with compensation based on experience.
People who feel qualified may apply. Employers and/or human resource personnel usually examine resumes and CV submissions. They will look for the qualifications and experience that meet the job requirements and select those applicants for an interview. Employers are looking for the best fit for any job.
While resumes and applications cannot ask for your age, they can ask about your educational background, degrees, certificates, and other credentials necessary for the job. They may also ask when these certifications were issued. In addition, job applications can inquire how long you were employed at your previous jobs. They can ask for dates of employment that can be verified. This information reflects your age as well as your experience. An applicant with more than 20 years of experience is likely to be well over 40. Employers may decide to select only applicants with ten years of experience suggesting that they are under 40. These applicants may be happy with lower compensation than an applicant with 15 or 20+ years of work in the required field.
An employer may interview people with different ages and experience. This is where age discrimination may become obvious.
A woman in her 60s applied for part-time work in the local office of a national company in response to an ad. She wanted the job to supplement her retirement income. She was knowledgeable about the company, the job requirements, and she had extensive experience in the field. She dressed in conservative professional attire and tried to hide her astonishment when she interviewed with a 30-year-old woman manager who had magenta hair!
The interview was pleasant, but the applicant noticed a younger woman waiting to interview for the job. The older applicant did not receive a callback. A recent article in the Daily News in California explained that 6.8 percent of older female applicants are not called back if they are competing against younger women for the job.
Age Discrimination on the Job
Older workers may not be promoted into better jobs, receive pay raises, or be considered for newer benefits. Older employees may not receive the same pay as a younger man or woman in a similar job. The employer’s often illogical reasoning is often that the younger person will stay on the job longer.
You may be terminated and replaced with a younger person who does not need your higher salary and benefits. You may also have been turned down for a training program that would lead to a promotion and better income.
“Standing up for yourself is essential,” according to a recent AARP article on job discrimination. Know your rights and the laws that protect older workers. Contact us at Aiman-Smith & Marcy if you believe that you are the victim of age discrimination in the workplace. We will work with you to uphold your rights and eradicate discriminatory practices in large corporations and small businesses in California.