Using COVID-19 layoffs as a pretext for age discrimination is unlawful

The COVID-19 pandemic has created difficulties for businesses everywhere. More and more companies have resorted to layoffs to reduce their workforce in light of the economy’s downward spiral.

Given the current situation, some California employers may be tempted to use the pandemic as an excuse to target particular groups of employees. For example, getting rid of higher-paid older workers and replacing them with younger, less-costly employees to save on labor expenses. They may try to justify their illegal actions under the guise of slow business and financial concerns.

Age discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee who is age 40 or older less favorably across any aspect of employment because of their age. There are certain signs that can indicate a supposed COVID-19-related layoff may actually be a form of age discrimination.

Evaluating the circumstances around the layoff can shed some light. For example, did the company’s layoff generally focus only on older, more experienced and higher-earning employees? Maybe your employer made remarks about the retirement age or higher pay of certain workers. Did the business hire younger employees soon after the older workers were let go?

It is illegal for employers to use COVID-19 layoffs as a pretext for age discrimination. If you believe you were laid off or terminated based on your age, you may have an age discrimination claim against your employer.

To have a valid legal claim, you would need to show that the reason for your termination was your age rather than a legitimate business need to reduce the workforce due to the effects of COVID-19. A qualified employment law attorney can help you determine if you have a case.

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