Can I Sue for Age Discrimination in California?

can i sue for age discrimination

Age discrimination is a serious issue that can affect individuals in the workplace, leading to unfair treatment, wrongful termination, and a host of other adverse actions. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your age, you may be wondering, “Can I sue for age discrimination?” In California, like in many other states, there are laws in place to protect employees from age discrimination. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of age discrimination, your rights under California law, how to prove age discrimination, and the steps you can take if you believe you’ve been discriminated against.

What is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfavorably because of their age. According California Age Discrimination Laws, it’s illegal to discriminate against individuals who are 40 years old or older in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.

How Do I Know If I Was Discriminated Against Because of My Age?

Determining whether you’ve been a victim of age discrimination can sometimes be challenging. Discrimination may not always be overt, and it can take many forms. Some common signs of age workplace discrimination include:

  • Being passed over for promotions in favor of younger employees.

  • Receiving negative performance evaluations or disciplinary actions despite consistent performance.

  • Experiencing derogatory comments or jokes about your age from supervisors or coworkers.

  • Being subjected to age-related stereotypes or assumptions about your abilities.

If you believe you’ve experienced any of these forms of discrimination or any other unfair treatment because of your age, you may have grounds for an age discrimination claim.

Is Age Discrimination Against the Law in California?

Absolutely. Age discrimination is explicitly prohibited under both federal and California state law. At the federal level, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) safeguards individuals aged 40 and above from discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) reinforces these protections, offering even broader safeguards against age-based discrimination.

Should I File an Age Discrimination Complaint with the EEOC?

Before suing your employer for age discrimination, you must file a complaint with the appropriate government agency. In California, this is typically the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Filing a complaint initiates an investigation into your allegations and allows the agency to attempt to resolve the matter through mediation or other means.

Once you file a complaint with the EEOC or DFEH, you will receive a “right to sue” notice, which grants you permission to proceed with a lawsuit in civil court. This step is crucial as you cannot file a lawsuit for age discrimination without first exhausting administrative remedies.

Can I Sue My Employer for Age Discrimination in California?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit against your employer for age discrimination in California. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may pursue legal action under federal law, state law, or both. It’s essential to consult with an experienced employment lawyer who can evaluate your situation and guide you through the legal process.

Proving Age Discrimination

Proving age discrimination requires demonstrating that:

  1. You belong to a protected age class (i.e., you are 40 years old or older).

  2. You were qualified for the position or benefit sought.

  3. You suffered an adverse employment action.

  4. There is a causal connection between your age and the adverse action.

How to File an Age Discrimination Lawsuit

If you believe you’ve been a victim of age discrimination in the workplace, taking legal action may be necessary to protect your rights and seek justice. Filing an age discrimination lawsuit can be a complex process, but understanding the steps involved can help you navigate it effectively. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to file an age discrimination lawsuit in California:

  1. Document Discriminatory Incidents: Keep records of discriminatory actions or remarks with dates, times, and witnesses.

  2. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an age discrimination lawyer specializing in age discrimination cases.

  3. File a Complaint: Lodge a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

  4. Wait for Right-to-Sue Notice: After investigation, await a “right-to-sue” notice granting permission to proceed with a lawsuit.

  5. Draft and File Lawsuit: With legal assistance, draft a formal complaint outlining details of discrimination and file it in court within the designated time frame (usually within 90 days).

  6. Trial: Present evidence and arguments in court before a judge or jury.

  7. Verdict and Appeals: After trial, a verdict is rendered, and either party may appeal if dissatisfied.

What Are My Damages in an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in California?

If you prevail in an age discrimination lawsuit, you may be entitled to various forms of relief, including:

  1. Back Pay: Compensation for lost wages and benefits.

  2. Front Pay: Compensation for future lost earnings if you’re unable to return to your previous position.

  3. Compensatory Damages: Compensation for emotional distress, pain, and suffering.

  4. Punitive Damages: Additional damages intended to punish the employer for particularly egregious conduct.

  5. Attorney’s Fees: Reimbursement for the costs of legal representation.

Can My Boss Fire Me for Reporting Age Discrimination?

Retaliation against employees for reporting age discrimination is illegal and prohibited under both federal and state law. If you experience retaliation, you may have grounds for an additional legal claim against your employer.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA)

The OWBPA is a federal law that provides additional protections for older employees, particularly regarding waivers of age discrimination claims. Under the OWBPA, employers must comply with specific requirements when seeking waivers of age discrimination lawsuits from employees.

How an Attorney Can Help You in an Age Discrimination Case

In cases of age discrimination in the workplace, an attorney can be an invaluable resource in helping you navigate the legal process and achieve a favorable outcome. Here are several ways in which an attorney can assist you in pursuing a claim for age discrimination:

  1. Legal Guidance: Attorneys provide knowledgeable guidance on employment laws and regulations related to age discrimination, offering insights into your rights and options.

  2. Case Evaluation: They assess the strength of your claim and advise on the best course of action.

  3. Legal Strategy: They develop a strategic plan tailored to your case, considering evidence and potential outcomes.

  4. Evidence Gathering: Attorneys assist in collecting compelling evidence to support your claim.

  5. Filing Administrative Complaints: They handle the paperwork and represent you in administrative proceedings with agencies like the EEOC or DFEH.

  6. Negotiating Settlements: Attorneys advocate for fair compensation and other remedies through negotiation with your employer.

  7. Litigation Representation: In court, they serve as your advocate, presenting evidence and arguing on your behalf.

  8. Protection Against Retaliation: Attorneys ensure your rights are protected and pursue legal action if you face retaliation from your employer.

  9. Emotional Support: They provide compassionate guidance and support throughout the process, helping alleviate stress and anxiety.

can i sue for age discrimination

Secure Justice for Age Discrimination Today with BLG

Age discrimination is a pervasive issue in the workplace, but individuals have legal rights and protections against such unfair treatment. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your age, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance promptly. By understanding the laws, gathering evidence, and taking appropriate action, you can hold employers accountable for age discrimination and pursue justice for yourself and others in similar situations. Remember, you don’t have to tolerate discrimination, you have the right to fight for fairness and equality in the workplace.

Ready to take action against age discrimination in the workplace? Let BLG be your guide to securing the justice you deserve. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to fighting for your rights and holding employers accountable for discriminatory practices.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


How hard is it to prove age discrimination?

Proving age discrimination can be challenging as it often involves subjective factors and subtle biases. However, with sufficient evidence such as direct statements, comparative evidence, or statistical data, it can be proven in court.

What would be considered age discrimination?

Age discrimination occurs when an individual is treated unfairly or disadvantaged in employment or other areas based on their age. This can include refual to hire older or younger workers, layoffs, unequal pay, denial of promotions, or harassment due to age.

What are the two ways to prove discrimination?

The two main ways to prove discrimination are through direct evidence and indirect evidence. Direct evidence involves explicit statements or actions demonstrating discriminatory intent. Indirect evidence relies on circumstantial evidence such as statistical disparities or disparate treatment compared to similarly situated individuals.

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