Age Discrimination Illegal, Hard to Prove

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: “I was employed by a company for 17 years in an executive management position, then demoted to a sales representative with a contract for an assigned territory.

“During the next nine months, the territory was reduced and there was not enough left to make a living. I was forced to look elsewhere for employment. No changes were made to the contract.

“This was also done to others in my age group, the late 50s and 60s. One man, whose wife was sick at home, had to resign after being assigned a territory starting 250 miles from his home. In some cases we were replaced by much younger personnel.

“The company made comments to others that we no longer fit their image, even though we performed well and their new personnel have not been able to match our sales figures.

“I have not been able to obtain a job that pays anywhere near what I had been earning, and have lost all benefits including medical, pension, etc. Is this type of action allowed?”

A: “It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on age. The problem is proving it. The age discrimination laws in California apply only to those who are over the age of 40. There is no maximum age limit.

“It sounds like you have some good evidence of age discrimination. Age related statements that you ‘no longer fit their image’ show the company’s bias. Your good past performance and the poor performance of your replacements also are relevant, as well as any statistical information showing that the company is terminating older workers.

“You should either file an age claim with the State Department of Fair Employment or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or seek the advice of an attorney. If you fail to act within one year of your termination, the deadline for claiming your rights will pass.”