The workforce in California is made up of employees of almost all ages, from teens to octogenarians. Every person who wants to work should have the opportunity, and in many cases, it is against the law for companies to make choices about hiring, firing, training, promotions, assignments and pay based on age. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing both outline the rules and regulations that are aimed at preventing age discrimination in the state.
The EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which applies to employers that have at least 20 employees, government agencies at all levels, labor organizations and employment agencies. This federal law does not protect younger workers from this type of discrimination, and an employee who is over the age of 40 may receive favorable treatment based on age. However, a worker who is 40 or older must not receive less favorable treatment than those who are younger based on age.
Protection extends to job applicants, although a company may request information such as age or date of birth. Benefits may not be the same for older workers because they may cost the employer more to provide for these employees. In certain situations, the employer may offer lesser benefits, but a company must still spend the same amount on benefits for each employee.
Those who feel they are victims of age discrimination must report the incident to the EEOC within a limited amount of time. The statute of limitations may vary based on several factors. Retaliation is not permitted against an employee who reports or participates in an investigation regarding age discrimination.
The State of California website explains that the Fair Employment and Housing Act protects a greater range of workers against age discrimination and harassment. Employees over the age of 40 who are working for companies with five or more workers are protected, as well as applicants, contractors, volunteers and unpaid interns. Victims of discrimination have one year from the date of the incident to send a discrimination complaint to the DFEH and begin the process of holding the employer accountable.