What is age discrimination?
According to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), age discrimination refers to illegal discriminatory practices in “hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”
ADEA specifically protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination, whether they are applying for a job or already employed. The act of discrimination may occur as an incident affecting one person, or it may be a written or unwritten policy of the employer. ADEA specifies “An employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of age, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on applicants or employees age 40 or older and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.”
Furthermore, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects older workers against repeated or persistent harassment, such as “offensive remarks about a person's age” that create a hostile work environment. The harasser may be “the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.” ADEA also protects employees against retaliatory firing if they report their employer for age discrimination (whistleblower).
Why would employers discriminate against older workers?
One might think that older workers would be more responsible, have a deeper knowledge of their job and company culture and be valuable mentors to younger workers. But age discrimination can occur when employers see older workers as liabilities instead of assets, potentially costing the employer more in wages and benefits than younger workers.
Many companies squeeze out experienced and highly paid workers over 40 due to age and the cost of employing them. Especially during uncertain economic conditions, older workers will be replaced by several younger workers, typically in their 20s and 30s, for less money. “Layoffs” may be disguised opportunities for companies to get rid of older, expensive workers. One company laid off six workers, all over the age of 40, retaining their younger, less expensive workers, some of whom were hired immediately prior to the layoff, others hired after the layoff. This is age discrimination.
Use of salary as the basis for differentiating between employees when terminating employment may be found to constitute age discrimination. If a person is 40 or older, performing his/her job satisfactorily, but is replaced by a substantially younger worker, those factors may support an age discrimination claim.
Have you been discriminated against because of your age?
If you feel you have been discriminated against based on your age, either as a job applicant or as an employee, Foley Lyman is available to discuss your specific situation. The discriminating employer can be held accountable through legal action and the employee may be eligible for a severance package.
Shannon Foley negotiates severance for many workers being squeezed out due to age. She has negotiated for older executives up to the high six figures, doubling their recovery. In other cases, Shannon Foley stays behind the scenes, advising clients on their rights and helping them negotiate an enhanced severance package.
In a recent case for an educational organization, Foley Lyman Law won a settlement for their clients six times their original severance package offers. Foley Lyman was able to establish that everyone on the laid-off list was either over 40 and replaced by employees in their 20s and 30s; or over 40, qualified for the job and replaced by younger workers; and that the replacement employees were all paid lower salaries for the same job.
Contact Foley Lyman Law Group LLP
Foley Lyman Law Group brings years of expertise and wins to the table. Our clients get results because our expertise is California labor law. If you are seeking legal counsel who will listen to your concerns, inform you of your options and represent you effectively, contact Foley Lyman Law Group at 310.706.4050 for a confidential consultation. You can also send us an email to obtain more information or schedule an appointment with one of our award winning employment and business lawyers.