Employment discrimination comes in many forms, but it almost always involves one person or a company making assumptions about another person because of certain protected characteristics. People can lose their jobs, remain in a position without upward mobility or pay raises, or even struggle to find new work because of the discriminatory practices of certain companies.
Most people know about racial discrimination and sex discrimination on the job and will watch carefully for it. There are even those who will speak up about such behavior even if it doesn’t affect them directly. However, fewer people seem to understand how serious of an issue age discrimination can be, even for professionals who have already established themselves in their careers.
How does California law protect workers from unfair employment decisions based on their age rather than their skills, education and job performance?
State law protects workers over the age of 40
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers and landlords to discriminate against people based on certain protected characteristics. One of the most common but overlooked forms of workplace discrimination is age discrimination. Anyone over the age of 40 has protection against their employer considering their age for any work-related decisions.
Companies should not consider your age when they decide whether to hire you, fire you, promote you or give you a raise. You also should not have to tolerate abuse in the workplace, which roughly one in four workers over the age of 45 claims to have experienced on the job.
How can you fight age discrimination?
Workplace age discrimination might look like your employer no longer giving you opportunities like they do younger workers. They could pass you over for promotions and exciting projects in favor of people with far less experience than you.
Age discrimination might look like you and many other experienced workers getting let go during a restructuring or a merger. It could even look like questionable performance reviews that raise issues with your use of technology, despite the fact that you have committed to learning all the systems and software necessary to do your job.
Identifying workplace discrimination and documenting the interactions that seem inappropriate can help you fight back if your employer unfairly damages your career just because of your age.