Age is a protected class in the United States and in California. Employers are not supposed to discriminate against workers who are at or over 40 years old.
But this type of discrimination is not always as obvious as it sounds. It’s not always a company firing a worker two days before their pension kicks in or something that dramatic. Your boss likely is not going to call you into his or her office and tell you that you have reached 50 years old and so you’re being let go. They are going to try to find a way to hide it.
A sudden change
One thing you may notice is that there is a quick shift in satisfaction with your work. It may have been perfectly on point for the last 15 years, but suddenly your employer has a lot of complaints about minor points. They may be trying to create a case to fire you even though your quality of work hasn’t actually declined.
Another thing that can sometimes be used as an excuse is downsizing, which is when a company has to make extensive layoffs. If all workers are impacted at an equal rate, there’s nothing wrong with that, but downsizing shouldn’t mean simply firing all of the workers who are over a certain age.
Not a good fit
In some cases, older workers will just be told that they’re “not a good fit” for the workplace. Maybe they don’t fit the company culture. But this can be problematic if the “company culture” just means young college graduates. These code words attempt to cover up discrimination.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you know that it can have a major impact on your career and your financial future. Be sure you know what legal steps to take.