The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits all employers from discriminating against any employee who is at least 40 years old or older. According to the ADEA, an employer is not allowed to favor any employee who is under the age of 40 over an employee who is over 40 on the basis of age. Further, the ADEA prohibits an employer from discriminating among employees who are 40 years old or older. This means that an employer cannot treat a 43 year old employee better than a 50 year old employee on the basis of age.
The ADEA offers protections for older employees against discrimination at every stage of the employment process, from hiring to hiring, and everything in between. Finally, the ADEA prohibits discrimination against older employees when it comes to benefits. This includes retirement plans, health and disability insurance. In summary, an employer is required to provide equal benefits for older and younger workers.
The 5 Steps Of An Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Suing your employer for age discrimination is a complex process. Below are the 5 steps you can expect to go through if you decide to bring an age discrimination claim in court.
1 — The Administrative Complaint
Your first requirement is to file an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before you can file an age discrimination lawsuit. An aggrieved employee may also bring an age discrimination claim under FEHA
After you file a claim with the EEOC or FEHA, they will follow up and investigate your complaint. The administrative agency will contact your employer, interview any relevant witnesses, and review the evidence.
Once the EEOC concludes its investigation, it will issue you a right to sue letter. At this point, you have 90 days to file a lawsuit.
Age discrimination lawsuits are different than other discrimination claims because you are not required to wait for a right to sue letter to file a lawsuit. You are allowed to file an age discrimination lawsuit any time after 60 days from the date you first filed your charge.
2 — Filing A Claim In Court
You are allowed to file a complaint in court if you have completed the necessary administrative requirements. A complaint is a legal document that explains your age discrimination lawsuit and any damages you may be seeking.
3 — The Discovery Stage
Once your age discrimination lawsuit has been filed, both sides will begin the discovery stage. During discovery, the attorneys for both parties will take recorded statements from witnesses (depositions), ask each other written questions (interrogatories), request documents, and gather evidence to use in court.
Be advised that your employer will have a lawyer to defend itself against your claims. Your employer’s lawyer will also take your deposition during the discovery phase. Participating in a deposition is similar to testifying in court — you will be under oath, answer questions and everything you say will be recorded. Your lawyer will be present during your deposition to support you and make sure you are not asked any inappropriate questions.
Finally, your lawyer will take depositions of anyone who took discriminatory action against you and any employees whose testimony may be relevant.
4 — Mediation
There may be an opportunity to settle your age discrimination claim before going to trial with the help of a mediator. Mediation can be voluntary or mandated by the court. During mediation, both sides will try to negotiate a settlement agreement. Your lawyer will represent you, explain your position, and formulate a settlement offer. And on the other side, your employer’s lawyer will counter with its own settlement offers until both sides reach an agreement.
If mediation is successful, the matter will be resolved by agreeing to certain terms and a trial will be unnecessary. The majority of cases settle before ever seeing a courtroom, but if a settlement cannot be reached, your claim will move to trial.
5 — Trial
Once discovery has concluded, both sides will prepare and present all evidence gathered. Be advised that you will be required to attend court for every day of your trial — this can take days or even several weeks. Your age discrimination lawyer will prepare you to testify and will explain the entire process to you before the trial begins.
What Damages Are Available In An Age Discrimination Lawsuit?
Damages in an age employment discrimination may include:
- Pay increases from a promotion.
- Bonus payments.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Pension benefits.
- Back pay.
If an employee was fired because of his or her age, the court can order an employer to rehire that employee. The court can also mandate an employer to promote an aggrieved employee. However, these options are rare because most employees do not want to come back to a hostile workplace.
What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The age discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience in age discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with an age discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 213-927-3700.
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