How To Deal With Age Discrimination As Per California Labor Laws

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Written By AndrewPerry

Founded in 2015 by a group of passionate legal professionals and enthusiasts, FlowingLaw started as a small blog. Today, it's a thriving community where ideas, expertise, and legal advice flow freely.





Age is one of the most critical factors that comprise discrimination issues in the workplace. Hence, it is only fitting that a specific section is created to tackle this issue when looking at California labor laws and policies in general. Lawmakers in the state of California strive their best to ensure that this employment policy stay as neutral as possible, especially for those aged 40 and above. To help in the preservation of employer rights and facilitate in providing employee benefits, make sure you read further for more details.

The federal law has imposed its own policies when it comes to age discrimination in the workplace. This is explained further in the ADEA or Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The goal of this section in the law is to protect all individuals who are at least 40 years old or above from any form of discrimination resulting from their age. According to this act, it is against the law to discriminate an individual within the workplace based solely on their age. Furthermore, it is also unlawful and could lead to employer liability if they are deprived of terms, benefits, and other aspects of their employment for the same reasons. Even if a person is not employed yet, discrimination resulting from age as associated with training or hiring can also subject the employer to lawsuit.

The California labor law concerning age discrimination is lenient when it comes to the enforcement of this policy, though. Provided that an employer can prove that the employee was terminated or refused employment or promotion can show proof that the employer was denied of such privileges for reasons other than their age, then they are cleared of any legal accountability. Currently, the legislators in California are still finalizing on what are the grounds that could fall under the “reasonable factors” classification.

A new government code under the California law was put forth via the Labor Code §12941.1, which was later revised to §12941. According to this law, all employers are prohibited from differentiating older employees when there is a need to lay off, especially when it produces an adverse impact to the older workers. The goal of this particular section in the employment law is to not just protect older employees as individuals, but also to give them the opportunity to prepare for any obstacles that they might face later in life. This unique consideration must therefore be taken into account by companies to curtail the possibility of employer liability.

In case of a defense on business necessity, you need to stay informed to preserve employer right. The ADEA might honor the presentation of “reasonable factors” for terminating older employees from work, the California labor laws require a more detailed explanation for what has led the employer into such a decision. The California employer has to be able to showcase the decision at a higher standard in order to exemplify that it was part of business necessity. The act specifically indicates that it must be part of an “overriding legitimate business purpose” and that it is necessary for the sake of the business operation in general. Furthermore, the employer will be held accountable if the court is able to show that there is an alternative decision available to them aside from one that would bring about significant discriminatory impact on older employees.