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Can I Sue for Age Discrimination in California?

By Walton Law APCFebruary 9, 2022November 7th, 2023No Comments

There’s been an uptick in age discrimination in the U.S. recently, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Although this is unfortunate for those who experience this in the workplace, there are federal and California state laws in place to help fight discrimination. Read on to learn about how you can sue for age discrimination in California.


What is Age Discrimination?

Employees and jobseekers have protection under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). As indicated by the term “age discrimination,” this refers to the mistreatment (based on age) that employers illegally commit against workers or those looking for work. The ADEA protects those that are 40 years of age and older from this; additionally, California’s FEHA also shields those 40 and above.

Examples of Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Sometimes age discrimination is difficult to detect and isn’t always obvious. However, here are some common examples that you can recognize:

  • Terminating workers after they’ve reached a certain age
  • Refusing to hire older workers, even though the older worker is more qualified or just as qualified as the other candidates
  • Refusing advancements or promotions for older workers due to their age
  • Frequent and extreme age-related harassment

 How to Prove Age Discrimination under the ADEA

Proving age discrimination under the ADEA can be difficult because you have to show that the age bias was the “determining factor” in the incident or event. A “but-for” test is used: That the decision (to terminate, failure to promote, failure to hire) would not have happened “but for” the discrimination based on age.

How to Prove Age Discrimination in California

California law offers more protection for employees/prospective employees. Under the FEHA, (which applies to any employer with five or more employees) the employee pursuing an age discrimination claim must show that age bias was a motivating factor, not the determining factor.

In general, proving age bias can be achieved through “anecdotal evidence”, such as showing that the employer made ageist comments toward older employees. Or by showing data with statistics that show the age bias. For instance, the company’s promotions were for workers that were younger than 40.

Recoverable Damages

Under federal law, age discrimination damages are more limited than under California law. It doesn’t allow for emotional distress and punitive damages, but if you do prevail, you would be entitled to an award of “liquidated damages” equal to the lost wages recovered. California law is more favorable to the victim when it comes to damages; all compensatory damages are available, including damages for emotional distress and punitive damages are recoverable as well.

Evaluate Your California Age Discrimination Claim

Age discrimination can be hard to prove. When you consult with a skilled lawyer, they will gain access to information to help you prove your case and navigate through this tricky terrain. If you suspect that you’re being discriminated against at work because of your age, act in your best interest and talk with one of our experienced Walton Law attorneys to help you evaluate your claim. Contact us today to get started.