Employers in California need to make all of their employment decisions based on the work performance and qualifications of their employees. They cannot base their decisions on the qualifications of the employees that they cannot control. These include decisions made based on race, gender, disability, age and others.
For example, employers may have preconceived notions about older employees’ ability to work or complete certain job tasks. However, they cannot make employment decisions based solely on the employees’ ages. They must make decisions based on the individual qualifications of each employee otherwise, it could be age discrimination.
Areas of employment protected from age discrimination
Age discrimination is prohibited in all areas of employment as well. It does not simply prohibit employers from firing employees who have reached a certain age. Employers are also prohibited from age discrimination in the following aspects of employment as well.
- Retaliation against employees who refuse to partake in actions that would result in age discrimination or those who participate in investigations regarding age discrimination
- Job advertisements cannot contain age preferences or age limits for job positions unless age is a bona fide qualification for completing the tasks necessary for the job
- Apprenticeship programs cannot refuse to accept people based on their age
- Employers should be cautious of asking for birthdates on job applications unless it is legally necessary. This is not specifically prohibited, but it can show possible age discrimination
- Benefits given to employees must be given to all employees even if providing them to older employees may result in higher costs for the employer
In certain situations, employees may waive the protections of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) such as when accepting early retirement incentives. However, the decision to waive the rights under the ADEA is completely up to the employee and not the employer.
The ADEA protects all employees over the age of 40 in California. There are many reasons why an employer may want to keep certain parts of their workforce younger. However, employers cannot make decisions simply based on the employees’ ages.
If employees are the victims of age discrimination, they may be able to receive compensation for the damages they suffer as a result. This could include lost income, lost benefits and other damages. Experienced attorneys understand the rights of older employees and may be able to help protect them.