California residents who are at or over the age of 40 are protected from age discrimination in employment by federal law. However, according to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination claims have remained high. They peaked in 2008 at more than 24,000, and each year for the past 10, there have been more than 20,000 claims. In 2016, there were 20,857.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967 by Congress, so it is reaching its 50th anniversary. There have been a few amendments, and some aspects of age discrimination have changed. For example, at the time of its passing, it was more common for an employer to set an arbitrary age limit.
However, other issues touched on in the 1967 act have not changed much. For example, the act mentions the disadvantages older workers face when they are pushed out of jobs and try to find new ones. It says that long-term unemployment is a problem for older workers and also causes a decrease in skills and morale. On June 14, there was a panel discussion involving the EEOC, employment experts and commissioners about the act’s future.
People who are facing workplace discrimination or harassment, whether it is based on age or some other factor, may want to talk to an attorney about their situation. There are a number of other protected classes, including religion, national origin and race, and the state of California offers additional protections. A person’s first step might be to try to deal with the situation in the workplace, but it may help to have a better understanding of the legalities. If the workplace does not respond appropriately, there may be other actions that can be taken including filing a lawsuit against the company.