Orange County Age Discrimination Lawyer
Age, like many other characteristics, is a protected class under state and federal law. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal to discriminate against or harass an employee aged 40 or over because of their age. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) does the same. Despite hefty penalties, however, age discrimination continues to occur in the workplace. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 14,183 charges of age discrimination in the fiscal year 2020, representing 21% of all discrimination charges. Monetary benefits in age discrimination cases through the EEOC amounted to $76.3 million, not including benefits obtained through litigation. Your age is not an indication of your ability in the workplace. If you believe that you have been laid off from your job or suffered any repercussions because of your age, contact the age discrimination lawyers at Sessions & Kimball by using our contact form, calling us at (949) 380-0900, or booking an appointment online for a free consultation today.
Why You Need An Orange County Age Discrimination Attorney
If you believe you’re being discriminated against as a result of your age, it’s important to contact a qualified lawyer who routinely deals with age discrimination claims. Age discrimination can be challenging to prove, and you will usually need to use circumstantial evidence to prove your case in court. It’s highly unlikely that your employer would ever explicitly tell you that they’re firing you or not promoting you because of your age!
What Is Age Discrimination?
State and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating and harassing employees based on age relating to any condition, term, or privilege of employment. This includes hiring, compensation, benefits, promotion opportunities, job assignments, training, apprenticeships, firing, and layoffs.
Age discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. Examples include:
- Hiring younger applicants instead of more qualified, older applicants
- Seeking younger job candidates, such as recent college graduates, in job postings and hiring decisions
- Hiring a younger person to fill a position instead of promoting a qualified, older employee
- Implementing layoffs that disproportionately affect older employees
- Making biased comments, such as “old man” or “grandma”
- Creating a hostile work environment for older employees by assigning them demeaning or undesirable tasks or making jokes or derogatory comments about them
- Taking actions designed to encourage older employees to resign
Which Employers are Subject to Age Discrimination Laws?
California’s age discrimination law (FEHA) applies to employers who regularly employ five or more people. All state governmental employers, regardless of their size, apprenticeship programs, employment agencies, and labor organizations, are covered under California age discrimination law. The federal ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, as stated by the EEOC. State and local governments are included in that category. The law also applies to the federal government, labor organizations, and employment agencies.
Filing An Age Discrimination Claim
In California, you have the option of filing a claim with the state administrative agency, The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Additionally, you can file a lawsuit in court if you’ve been the victim of discrimination. However, in order to do this, you will need to get what’s called a right-to-sue notice from the DFEH.
It’s important to know that once you obtain a right-to-sue notice, the DFEH will not investigate your claim in any way. While you can obtain this notice without an attorney, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney to do this for you to ensure that everything is done correctly so fully preserve your rights should you later want to file a lawsuit in civil court. Sessions & Kimball has significant experience in filing age discrimination claims, so if you have any questions or need to find an attorney to help you with your claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.
Burden Of Proof
An employee’s burden of proof to show age discrimination is easier under California state law than it is under federal law. In California, an employee must show that age was a substantial motivating factor in an employment decision. In other words, age need only be one motivating factor, and not even the main factor motivating an employment decision. Under federal law, an employee must show that the decision was made because of the employee’s age. This is also referred to as the but-for test: but-for the employee’s age, the employer wouldn’t have taken the employment action.
Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a claim for the discriminatory behavior you’ve experienced. Generally, in California, if you are filing a state action, you must file an administrative complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within three years from the last date that you’ve been harassed or discriminated against. Additionally, you have one year from the date you are issued a right-to-sue notice to file a lawsuit for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. However, the timeline is different in some circumstances, so you should contact an experienced attorney right away to not miss out on recovering compensation that you’re entitled to.
If you are pursuing federal relief, you must file a complaint with either the DFEH or the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act. If either agency then issues you a right-to-sue notice, you will have 90 days to file a lawsuit in court.
Do I Want A Right-To-Sue Notice?
A right to sue letter is essentially granting you permission to file a lawsuit in court. When you first make a complaint to the DFEH or EEOC, they will investigate your claim if you would like them to. At the end of the investigation, they may file a lawsuit on your behalf if they believe it is warranted.
If your goal is to file a lawsuit in court, you want to hire an attorney and then request that the DFEH or EEOC immediately issue a right-to-sue notice. You won’t be able to file an age discrimination lawsuit in court until you receive this notice. You should make sure you have an attorney before you request your right-to-sue notice because of the short amount of time you’re given to file the lawsuit once you receive the notice. As stated above, in some circumstances, you’ll only have 90 days to file a lawsuit from the date you receive this notice. If you don’t already have an attorney, it can be quite challenging to find the right lawyer or firm and get them to initiate that lawsuit in such a short period of time.
What You’re Entitled To If You Win
If you are successful in your age discrimination claim, there are many different remedies available, and you may be entitled to recover several different types of damages as well.
- Reinstatement or Promotion
If you were terminated because of your age or you were not promoted as a result of your age, you can file an age discrimination lawsuit and request to be reinstated or request to be promoted.
- Back Pay and Front Pay
If you were terminated as a result of your age, you can sue your employer for lost wages (back pay) and front pay (the amount of money you would have earned had you not been fired).
- Compensation For Emotional Distress
For many people, losing their job for unlawful reasons can be incredibly distressing. You might not know where your next meal will come from or how you’ll afford to keep a roof over your family’s head. If you’ve suffered emotional distress as a result of age discrimination, you deserve to be compensated appropriately.
- Punitive Damages
If your employer unlawfully discriminates against you on the basis of your age, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are the amount of money that an employer has to pay out as a punishment for engaging in illegal activity. It is intended to act as a deterrent so they don’t engage in this behavior in the future.
Settling An Age Discrimination Claim
If you and your age discrimination attorney are able to come to an agreement with your employer without going to court, this is called a settlement. To settle an age discrimination claim, it’s likely that you will need to enter into a waiver with your employer and agree to waive your rights to sue them in court, or you will agree to drop a current lawsuit and agree not to file it at any point in the future.
When you waive your rights in exchange for a settlement, the waiver must be entered into knowingly and voluntarily by you. Federal law has specific guidelines that must be met in order to show that a waiver was entered into knowingly and voluntarily. In order for the waiver to be valid, the following requirements must be met:
- The waiver must be in writing, and the language must be understandable;
- The waiver must refer specifically to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act claims and rights;
- The waiver must be given in exchange for something valuable that the employee is not already receiving or entitled to;
- The waiver must advise the employee to consult with an attorney before signing it; and
- The employee must be given at least 21 days to consider the waiver and at least seven days to revoke the waiver after signing it if they change their mind.
Legal Help for Victims of Age Discrimination in Orange County
If you are a worker aged 40 or over and have been subjected to employment discrimination or harassment, it is essential to know that the law gives you protection. At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we exclusively focus on protecting employee rights. Our California age discrimination attorneys are industry leaders and have recovered millions for our clients. We are regularly recognized as one of the region’s “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News and World Report, and our experienced employment law attorneys have been listed among California Super Lawyers®. Contact the Los Angeles and Orange County law office of Sessions & Kimball by using our online contact form or call us at (949) 380-0900 for a free consultation today.