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What is age discrimination in the workplace?

Age discrimination in California workplaces can take many forms, including being passed over for promotion, being verbally harassed, being terminated or not receiving pay increases solely because of age. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, prohibits employers from making decisions about a person's performance, job duties or income based on their age. People 40 and older are covered by the ADEA, which protects employees from discrimination by supervisors, co-workers and even people who are not directly employed by the company, like clients or vendors, who simply do business with them.

Additionally, many states have age discrimination policies in place as well. In California, these policies are set forth in the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which addresses many discriminatory issues related to both employment and housing. The FEHA also protects individuals 40 and older from age discrimination and covers employers who have five or more employees.

The FEHA outlines the options available for recourse under the law should employees believe themselves to be a victim of age discrimination. The law allows employees who can prove that they have been discriminated against because of age to petition for lost income, attorney's fees, pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages.

If employees find themselves in a situation where they believe that they are being discriminated against because of their age, there are actions that they can take to obtain remedies. It may be advisable to consult an attorney who has experience in employment law and age discrimination to determine the best way to proceed as well as the potential remedies that may be available under both federal and state law.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Age Discrimination", November 29, 2014

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