Employee Rights Attorney
Mission Viejo, California
Q: “I have been employed by a major corporation for over 30 years, the last 27 years in a management position in one department. I have received glowing annual performance ratings from various supervisors who have headed the department.
“Recently I found out that very quietly, without any announcement, about 50% of my peers in the department have been upgraded to the next highest management level. I am 57 years old. Everyone upgraded is younger and very few, if any could match my continuously high performance rating, my varied skills and experience level.
“This obvious choice of youth and disregard of over three decades of outstanding service clearly indicates an orchestrated effort by the current managers to force the ‘old timer’ into an early retirement.
“Are we talking age discrimination here? Are any labor laws broken? Do I have any legal recourse?”
A: “It is illegal to discriminate against any employee on the basis of age.
“Your challenge is to show that age was the reason that the others were promoted. You should evaluate all other possible factors for the promotion of those other employees. Compare your salaries, job responsibilities, and performance.
“Your case would be stronger if peers who were not promoted are in your age category. It hurts your case if some are younger.
“If it was an orchestrated effort to force you into retirement, however, it’s difficult to understand why such a move would have been made quietly, as you said. It would have made more sense for them to show favoritism outwardly, or to criticize you in your annual reviews.
“Regardless, if you can prove discrimination, you have legal recourse through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company’s internal grievance procedure, or an attorney.”