July 25, 2018 Category: Age Discrimination
It’s illegal for employers in California to discriminate against their employees because of their age. One company doing business in the state recently learned that age discrimination can have some very harsh consequences. The company, Danaher Corporation, was sued by a former 58-year-old female employee for age discrimination.
In the lawsuit, the woman claimed that her bosses had repeatedly made hostile comments to her at work, mostly revolving around her age and gender. Comments included that she was “a dumb female,” “part of the old culture,” and “outdated.” The workplace became unbearable and the woman was forced to quit. After hearing arguments, a jury sided with the woman and awarded her $31 million in damages.
What is Age Discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently by an employer because they are a member of a protected class. Protected classes are defined by law and include (among others) gender, race, religion, national origin, and disability. Age is also a protected class in California. Age discrimination occurs when an employee (or applicant) is treated differently than others because of their age.
Types of Discrimination
There are actually a few different forms of discrimination. Each is a bit different and will affect the victim in different ways. All of these types of age discrimination are illegal.
This type of discrimination occurs as a result of seemingly-neutral workplace policies or customs that have a disproportionate adverse impact on protected groups. For example, a company policy requiring employees to meet certain educational requirements (e.g., Master’s Degree) in order to get a promotion could have a disparate impact on older employees who have been working their whole lives and did not spend time getting advanced degrees.
This type of discrimination that targets individuals because they are members of a protected class. For example, a company policy prohibiting employees over the age of 60 to receive a promotion would be discriminatory. The policy may not be aimed directly at a specific person, but it does negatively impact certain individuals because they are a member of a protected class.
Harassment involves employer actions that offend and/or harm an employee. In order to be considered harassment, these actions must be based on a protected characteristic. Slurs, name-calling, the use of derogatory terms, and insensitive jokes based on a person’s age are all examples of harassing behavior. Harassment is illegal when it:
- Is used as a condition of employment, or
- Creates a hostile work environment.
Damages Available to Victims of Age Discrimination in California
In California, a victim of age discrimination can file a lawsuit against his or her employer. If the lawsuit is successful, state law provides several remedies for the victim.
The California woman who sued who employer for age discrimination was awarded $3 million in compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are used to help victims cope with any injuries that were caused by the employer’s discriminatory behavior. These damages can help to cover costs associated with physical, emotional, psychological, and financial harms.
Examples of compensatory damages include:
- Lost wages
- Future lost earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Attorney’s fees
- Emotional distress, and
- Job training.
Victims of age discrimination may also be entitled to certain equitable remedies. These types of remedies don’t really focus on money. Instead, these remedies can require or prevent an employer from taking certain actions. Example of equitable remedies include:
- Hiring or reinstatement
- Employment policy changes, or
- Providing reasonable accommodations.
The majority of the California woman’s jury award was comprised of punitive damages. Punitive damages are used as a way to punish employers for their discriminatory behavior. These damages are paid in addition to compensatory and equitable remedies. In order to recover punitive damages, an employer must have demonstrated behavior that was malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent.
San Jose Age Discrimination Attorneys
Have you been forced to quit your job because you were the victim of age discrimination at work? Are you still working, but finding it is difficult to make it through the day? Contact the Briski Law Firm to learn about the benefits of filing an age discrimination lawsuit. We can help you hold your employer accountable for his or her abusive conduct. Call our San Jose age discrimination attorneys today to schedule your free consultation.