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Age discrimination is an insidious part of the modern business culture. Which is why we have had to make laws against it. Age discrimination occurs when a manager favors younger employees over older ones. Usually based on the stereotypes that all old people move slower, work less, are technically inept, or won’t have many years to work.

It is illegal for employers to make hiring, firing, raise and promotion, demotion, or work assignment decisions that consistently disadvantage older employees. Sometimes age discrimination is obvious because an employer makes their motivations clear. Other times, cases of apparent age discrimination may turn out to have other causes. Like a work performance issue, or even accommodating an unmentioned health problem.

If you have seen or experienced age discrimination in your workplace, you can make it right. But first, you’ll need to investigate and confirm your evidence. Part of that is understanding exactly how age discrimination is defined and how that relates to real workplace situations.

How Old Do You Have to Be for Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination applies specifically to employees over 40, who may be judged to be less valuable than younger employees. This is most often identified with patterned decision making and voiced prejudices about how older people can’t ‘commit’ as fully to a job as younger employees can. Or that they cost more to insure. Or that they will call in sick more. Some employers have even been known to fire employees who get too old.

Discrimination is defined as favoring younger employees over someone who is 40 or over in hiring, management, and firing decisions. The key here is that the subject of unfair decision making is over 40. And that their age can provably be cited as the cause.

Does the Age of My Manager Matter?

A lot of people wonder if the age of their manager matters in a case of age discrimination. You may think that if your manager is over 40, that they are less likely to be considered discriminatory. Or that if your manager is under 30, that they’re more likely to be seen as discriminating. But the law is absolutely clear.

The age of your manager does not matter. It is a common fallacy to think that if someone can’t really be discriminating if they are of the same category. That a short manager won’t continue the workplace trend of favoring tall people. Or that someone with a learning disorder can’t make fun of someone else with a learning disorder. This has been proven false in the courts many times, so the law does not consider the age of the perpetrator when judging whether discrimination has occurred.

Is It ‘Age Discrimination’ If I’m Under 40?

You may also wonder about cases where the discrimination is clearly going the other way. That older employees are being favored even when they have lesser skills and qualifications. While this is linguistically still discrimination based on age, it is not considered illegal by federal or California law. If the subjects are not 40 or older, then the law will not step in to stop age-biased decision making.

That said, you may be able to prove discrimination based on other legally actionable factors if age bias is already at play. Also, if there is a pattern of age discrimination, not all the subjects have to be over 40. If some targets are in their late 30s, this will not disqualify your evidence of discrimination.

What About My Older Coworker?

You may have found yourself at this article of a colleague of yours appears to be facing age discrimination. It’s not uncommon to want to speak up for someone if you can see — from the outside — that they are being treated unfairly compared to younger peers. It is noble for you to want this and you can absolutely take steps to correct your employer’s mistreatment. But first, you should make sure the situation is really discrimination.

There are many reasons why someone might not be seeing as many raises, promotions, or overtime hours as their peers. They might have chosen not to ever go into management, therefore seem to be ‘held back’ from the outside. Or they might have negotiated a unique employment contract that involves a different set of incentives and rewards. They might have a health issue or demands at home that are being accommodated, resulting in fewer hours and assignments.

When preparing to ride in as someone’s champion, be aware of the details of the situation. But if you see a pattern of discrimination against multiple employees, it’s much more likely to be a real systemic problem with your employer.

You don’t have to take workplace discrimination of any type lying down. Even the systemic bias against older workers that has always been a part of the business world.

At Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we focus our legal work on helping employees stand up to their employers and defend their rights no matter how big or small your workplace may be. For more information or a consultation on your workplace situation, contact us today!

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986