As Economy Forces Older Workers to Remain at Work, Workplace Discrimination Climbs: Recent Cases Involve Newport Beach Firefighters Suing their Department and a $26 Million Verdict to a Staples Facilities Manager Suing under Workplace Age Discrimination
A recent workplace age discrimination lawsuit brought by three high-ranking firefighters alleged that their superiors discriminated against them due to their age. All three are older than 50. The complaint states that the firefighters have seen their decision-making responsibilities dwindle and their workload reduced in favor of younger firefighters. The lawsuit claims that the three were “kept in the dark about current events in the department, often being informed of changes by their subordinates.” This isolation and reduction in management, they claim, is unlawful discrimination.
Earlier in the year, the largest award of its kind in Los Angeles County was handed down by a jury finding that a 64 year old was discriminated against and harassed due to his age. According to the lawsuit, the hard-working facilities manager refused to resign when prompted by his manager. Then, he began to experience harassment in the form of jokes and a harsh work environment including being suspended for taking a bell pepper worth 68 cents from the cafeteria. The jury not only awarded him $3.2 million in compensatory damages, but also put other employers on notice by awarding him $22.8 million in punitive damages.
What is Age Discrimination and How Are You Protected?
Age discrimination is a type of workplace discrimination that occurs when someone (an applicant or employee) is treated less favorably because of age. This mistreatment may take the form of employment decisions such as firing, pay, assignments, demotions, or loss of other benefits. It may also involve actions (by a supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer) such as frequent or severe harassment that creates an offensive or hostile work environment.
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on age (for employees or contractors 40 years or older). If proven in court, a plaintiff may recover unlimited monetary damages, including back pay, emotional distress, punitive damages, and any other out-of-pocket losses. Complaints must first be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date of the alleged unlawful act. They may then be filed in court. See link for more information. On the federal-level, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against individuals who are 40 or older.
An Employment Law Attorney Can Help: Contact California’s Premier Age Discrimination Lawyers for Representation
As demonstrated by the recent string of cases in California, while age discrimination is strictly prohibited, it is still unlawfully practiced by many companies. As the economy forces older workers to remain in the workplace, it is unfortunately inevitable that the potential for such discrimination will continue to grow.
California workers who believe they suffered from age discrimination should contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates to discuss their circumstances and legal options. See these Blogs for more information on discrimination.