Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is supposed to protect workers 40 and over against age discrimination, some older workers in California may nevertheless find themselves dealing with workplace bias because of their age. The AARP reported in December 2019 that age discrimination in the workplace is common.
Tech firms are particularly guilty with the widespread perception that millennials have more technical skills than older workers. This leads to more promotions for millennials compared to baby boomers. However, not only can older adults be trained in tech skills, but they also tend to be very strong in so-called “soft” skills such as communication. Some professionals argue that these soft skills are critical ones. Embracing age as an asset rather than a detriment can lead to workplaces drawing strengths from the various perspectives that employees with a variety of ages, backgrounds and skills can bring to their work.
Unfortunately, awareness and training about age discrimination in the workplace appear to be uncommon. According to a 2019 survey of 400 workers, nearly 66% said that within the past year, they had not received any training on age discrimination. There are steps that employers and supervisors can take to help combat age discrimination in the workplace, including being conscious of too few older workers being hired or promoted or too many being laid off.
People who believe they are facing age discrimination in the workplace or discrimination related to other protected characteristics may want to consult an attorney. California offers additional protections on top of federal laws. An attorney may be able to explain an employee’s rights and what steps to take. Usually, it is best to try to report the discrimination and give the company a chance to respond. If the company does not conduct an investigation or the response is otherwise unsatisfactory, a lawsuit might be appropriate.