Employers: Don't make these age discrimination mistakes

People over the age of 40 face challenges when it comes to finding jobs and working their way up in a company. One especially troubling challenge is age discrimination.

Age discrimination is subjecting someone to adverse treatment because of his or her age. It is illegal in this and every state, so it is crucial for California employers to take steps to avoid age discrimination. This includes avoiding the following discriminatory acts and behaviors:

  • Job descriptions that restrict experience to less than a certain number of years
  • Language in job postings that show preferential treatment for younger candidates
  • Asking inappropriate questions during an interview, like how old a person is
  • Workplace conduct and language, including calling someone old or inviting only younger employees to events
  • Giving younger workers better hours or projects
  • Assuming an employee cannot do certain jobs because of his or her age
  • Laying off or firing only employees over 40
  • Favoring younger job candidates with similar or fewer qualifications as older candidates
  • Stereotyping older workers as unwilling to change or unable to innovate

These are all examples of discrimination based on a person's age, and they could all be grounds for a lawsuit. As such, employers should thoroughly review the following things to ensure they are not discriminatory:

  • Job descriptions
  • Hiring, promoting and firing policies
  • Employee handbooks
  • Interview questions
  • Performance review metrics
  • Compensation structures

California companies in particular should be wary about discrimination in these areas. Because so many businesses here are in the technology industry or start-ups, there is a tendency for companies or employers to favor young workers, which can lead to legal disputes.

Whether discrimination based on age or other protected characteristic is unintentional or deliberate, it is a serious issue which employers would be wise to avoid. To discuss in more detail how to do this, employers and business owners can consult an attorney.

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