What does age discrimination look like?

Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against someone because he or she is age 40 or older. This is prohibited at any point in the employment process. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination still happens. Despite how common this form of discrimination is, many people are still not sure what age discrimination even looks like.

Signs of age discrimination

According to AARP, there are five signs of age discrimination you can look for. One sign is what many companies try to pass off as “culture fit.” This may be happening if older workers are being fired or offered buyouts, but younger workers are still being hired.

Other signs can include you being reassigned to unfavorable tasks, your boss initiating conversations about your retirement plans, you are no longer receiving raises and you suddenly receiving poor performance reviews. Any of these actions can indicate your employer is trying to get you to quit.

What can I do if I am being discriminated against?

If you think you have been discriminated against, you may want to work through your employer’s grievance system to see if the company is willing to resolve the issue. You can also consider filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year of the act of discrimination. The employer must have at least five employees for state discrimination laws to apply.

Another option is to file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the act of discrimination. The employer must have 20 or more employees for federal discrimination laws to apply. Note that you do not need to file with both DFEH and EEOC because the two entities have a work-sharing agreement.

You can file a job discrimination lawsuit only if you have already filed a charge of discrimination with EEOC. A lawsuit can be filed no sooner than 60 days after the charge of discrimination was filed, but no more than 90 days after you receive notice that the investigation has been completed.

Possible remedies that may come of your complaint, charge or lawsuit include:

  • Past or future lost earnings
  • Hiring or reinstatement
  • Promotion
  • Policy changes
  • Compensation for emotional distress
  • Payment of attorney’s fees

Age discrimination can sometimes be difficult to identify and is often difficult to prove. However, no one deserves to be discriminated against. If age discrimination has happened to you, there are options available to help you find justice.


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