Walnut Creek Age Discrimination Attorneys
Age Discrimination Lawyer in Walnut Creek
Representing workers who face age discrimination in the workplace.
Age should not be a factor when making employment decisions. Unfortunately, some employers unlawfully use age to discriminate against employees, particularly older workforce members. Because age is a protected characteristic under California and federal law, treating employees differently based on their age can be illegal. Workers aged 40 years or older are protected from wrongful termination and other discriminatory actions. These protections also extend to job applicants.
At Erlich Law Firm, age discrimination remains a harmful reality for many employees. Workplace age discrimination claims accounted for 22 percent of all complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2020.
Our Walnut Creek employment lawyers are dedicated to standing up for workers and protecting the rights of those who have faced unlawful treatment on the job. We are ready to help you get compensation and put an end to your employer’s discriminatory practices.
What Laws Provide Protections from Age Discrimination?
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) shield employees and job applicants over 40 from age discrimination. Age is a protected class alongside race, sex, disability, and other personal characteristics.
The laws prohibit employers from targeting older workers based on age across all employment decisions, such as hiring, training, firing, and pay. The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more workers, while the FEHA applies to companies with five or more employees.
Employment in Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is home to a mix of small businesses and large companies. Major employers in the East Bay city include John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, Del Monte Foods, Robert Half International, Brown and Caldwell, Nordstrom, and Broadway Plaza retailers.
Five key employment sectors make up 71 percent of the city’s jobs. These industries are healthcare, retail, hospitality, financial services, and professional services.
Walnut Creek has a workforce of around 32,900 people with a median age of 48.3. More than a third, or 36.5 percent, of residents are in their prime working years of ages 25 to 54. Overall, the city has an older population compared to the surrounding Contra Costa County and East Bay region, which has a median age of about 38.2 years.
Some Walnut Creek companies rightfully recognize the value and leadership skills that older, experienced employees bring to a job. Many other employers, however, rely on stereotypes to replace them with younger, underqualified employees who lack experience.
A 2022 study found that around 9 percent of workers over 40 have experienced age discrimination. Fifty percent of the surveyed workers said they believed their age could be an obstacle in the job search process.
Older workers are often unfairly perceived to be less productive, lacking skills, resistant to change, unable to use technology, or more likely to take medical leave. Some employers assume employees over a certain age may be approaching retirement and thus do not want to provide advancement or training opportunities to them.
How Does Age Discrimination Occur in the Workplace?
Not all age discrimination is overt. Employers may use various tactics to hide their discriminatory practices, making it difficult for workers to recognize that they are being subjected to disparate treatment based on age. Age discrimination is unlawful, no matter how subtly it occurs.
Below are some examples of common forms of age discrimination:
- Forcing older workers to quit
- Targeting more senior employees through layoffs
- Wrongfully terminating older workers
- Asking about an applicant’s age during a job interview
- Specifying age limits on job postings
- Refusing to hire someone based on their age
- Denying training and advancement opportunities to older employees
- Enabling a hostile work environment with ageist jokes and remarks
- Reducing pay or denying benefits to older workers
- Promoting a younger, inexperienced worker over a more senior employee
If your employer has taken any of these negative actions against you because of your age, reach out to an experienced Walnut Creek employment lawyer. You may feel you must quit your job or tolerate unlawful treatment to avoid being fired. However, California workers have important protections from age discrimination. This includes the right to report discriminatory practices without the fear of retaliation.
Age Discrimination in the Healthcare Sector
Healthcare comprises 28 percent of all employment in Walnut Creek, making it a regional hub for medical services. The city is home to large employers like Kaiser Permanente, John Muir Medical Center, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, as well as smaller doctor offices, nursing facilities, diagnostic clinics, outpatient centers, and other medical facilities.
Age discrimination can manifest in different ways in Walnut Creek’s healthcare industry. For example, nurses over the age of 40 may experience a pattern of discriminatory treatment from supervisors or fellow staff members. There may be an assumption that older nurses lack the physical strength to carry out certain tasks such as moving someone from a bed to a wheelchair or restraining a belligerent patient.
As nurses gain experience, they are entitled to increased pay. Healthcare employers may attempt to replace older medical professionals with younger, less experienced staff who do not need to be paid as much.
Age discrimination may go hand in hand with other unlawful treatment like wrongful termination or retaliation. RNs and other medical staff who complain about age discrimination may be assigned unfavorable shifts to force them to quit their jobs. An experienced Walnut Creek age discrimination attorney can identify whether you have grounds for multiple claims against your employer.
Age Discrimination in Retail
Walnut Creek is a popular shopping destination for residents and visitors alike. Broadway Plaza is an outdoor mall with more than 80 stores including Apple, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Lululemon, Zara, Old Navy, Crate & Barrel, and more. Shoppers can also visit specialty stores as well as big-box retailers like Big 5 Sporting Goods and Target. With so many shopping options available, it is no wonder that retail is Walnut Creek’s second-largest employment sector.
Retailers can flout employment laws in subtle ways. Setting an upper age limit for a position in job postings or restricting applications to recent graduates constitutes age discrimination.
Several years ago, a 54-year-old employee sued Anthropologie for an age-based hostile work environment. Coworkers referred to the plaintiff as “mom” even when she expressed her dislike for being called that. The woman was also denied a promotion based on her manager’s belief that she lacked the stamina for the position due to her age.
Retail workers carry out tasks like restocking shelve and helping customers. Employers may try to take advantage of employees who do not realize that age discrimination is unlawful. They may use poor job performance or slumping sales as a pretext to fire older workers based on their age.
Age Discrimination in the Hospitality Industry
Walnut Creek’s vibrant hospitality sector includes cafes, bars, restaurants, and hotels. In 2020, the city had 1,452 workers employed in accommodation and food services. Visitors to Walnut Creek can choose from lodging options like the Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, and Diablo Mountain Inn. The city also has a wide range of dining establishments such as Chick-fil-A, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, True Food Kitchen, San Francisco Creamery Co., and more.
A common way in which restaurants engage in age discrimination is by refusing to hire job applicants over the age of 40 for front-facing positions such as hosts, servers, and bartenders. The same holds true for hotels, which often seek workers below a certain age when recruiting receptionists or front-desk employees.
Although older professionals may have the necessary qualifications, experience, and customer service skills, employers may shun them in favor of younger workers. Restaurants often attempt to maintain a perceived culture of youth by hiring waitstaff or bartenders below the age of 35. Even when older workers get hired, they may face repeated derogatory comments or ageist jokes from coworkers, resulting in a hostile work environment that forces them to quit their job.
Sometimes employers use underhanded tactics to get rid of older job seekers. For example, a bartending position may be advertised as “fun” or “energetic,” or an application may ask for a graduation year from high school to indirectly find out a candidate’s age. Asking about an applicant’s age during a job interview and refusing to hire someone based on their age are both unlawful.
Employers may try to get away with discriminatory treatment under the assumption that such labor practices are the norm in the hospitality industry. However, Walnut Creek workers have the right to hold employers accountable for age discrimination, no matter what form it takes.
Age Discrimination in Office Settings
Closing out the top five employment sectors in Walnut Creek are professional services and financial services. The professional services sector includes law firms, accounting firms, architecture and engineering businesses, computer software, management consultants, and advertising companies.
Age discrimination can occur in office settings in a variety of ways. Workplaces may develop a culture in which older workers are looked down upon or targeted for layoffs. Employees aged 40 and over may be subjected to repeated disparaging age-related remarks, which can become pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.
Ageist comments can sometimes appear to be playful, such as coworkers making jokes about an older colleague’s slow typing speed or calling them “grandpa.” Other remarks can be more confronting, such as pressure from an employer to retire and make way for a younger professional. In extreme cases, age-based discrimination or harassment can become so bad that the older worker feels they have no choice but to resign from their job.
Financial services are Walnut Creek’s fifth largest employment sector with around 6,232 jobs. The city serves as a financial hub for central Contra Costa County with a broad range of banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and stock brokerage firms. Technology is transforming the sector in significant ways, from banking to wealth management.
Older professionals may unfairly be perceived as lacking the technical skills needed to carry out tasks effectively in a fast-paced work environment. Additionally, they may be denied promotions or career advancement opportunities, such as the chance to attend an industry conference or take on challenging projects.
Filing an Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Walnut Creek workers who face workplace discrimination because of their age can file a lawsuit against their employer under the FEHA or ADEA. Bringing an age discrimination claim allows you to recover lost income and benefits, among other possible compensation.
The employee is responsible for submitting evidence that proves the mistreatment they experienced was based on age. However, employers often try to do everything they can to protect themselves from being sued for discrimination. They may attempt to pass off age discrimination as legitimate business considerations rather than the motivating reason for promotions, layoffs, annual reviews, and other employment decisions. A skilled Walnut Creek employment lawyer can fight back against such tactics.
No matter what industry you work in, it is important to note down repeated incidents of age discrimination you experience. Keep detailed records of where, when, and how the discriminatory treatment occurred.
You should also hold on to other documentation like emails, text messages, memos, paycheck records, and performance reviews that may support your claim. Sometimes complaints about poor job performance are used as a pretext for demoting or firing a worker based on their age. In such cases, proving age discrimination will be easier if you have a history of positive performance reviews.
Be sure to report age discrimination to your company’s human resources department. Follow your employer’s policy for reporting workplace discrimination or harassment. If you decide to take legal action in the future, the complaint can serve as proof that you informed your employer about the discrimination and tried to get them to stop the unwanted behavior.
When you hire Erlich Law Firm to handle your age discrimination claim, we will investigate the details of what happened and gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case. We are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve while putting an end to your employer’s discriminatory practices.
Erlich Law Firm will guide you through the entire legal process, never accepting a settlement unless you are satisfied with it. Our law firm is also prepared to go to trial when necessary. Your lawyer will keep you updated as your case progresses and always act in your best interests.
Call for a Free Case Evaluation
At Erlich Law Firm, we are dedicated to righting injustices in the workplace. If you have faced age discrimination at work, our Walnut Creek employment lawyers are ready to listen to what happened. We can advise you on what steps you can take to stop the unlawful behavior. Get started today with a free consultation.
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When employees' legal rights are violated, we take time to explain their legal options, listen to their goals, and aggressively argue their case until we achieve the resolution they deserve.