How do I file an Age Discrimination Claim?
Age discrimination occurs when an employee or a job applicant who has reached his or her 40th birthday is a victim of negative treatment at the workplace by reason of their age.
Age is a protected characteristic under US anti-discrimination laws. Age in this instance as defined under the laws refers to the chronological age of any individual who has reached his or her 40th birthday (29 U.S.C. §§ 621–634; Gov. Code, § 12900).
The court has also affirmed this position in the case of Linsley v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. [(1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 762, 766]. In that case, it was emphasized that both California and federal law prohibit employers from unlawfully discriminating against employees on the basis of their age.
It is equally unlawful for an employer to discriminate against someone on the basis of age by reason of a false belief that such person is within the age of 40 years and older.
If you have suffered wrongful, negative treatment simply because of your age, your rights may have been violated. Speak to the age discrimination lawyers at Eldessouky Law for enforcement of your rights.
What are the Laws that prohibit age discrimination in California?
The laws prohibiting age discrimination in California are the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The FEHA expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against workers within the age range of 40 and above.
Securing a remedy under this act requires the filing of a complaint through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The ADEA of 1967 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees within the age range of 40 and above. This law however applies to employers with 20 or more full time or regular part time employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year. The law further proscribes the advertisement of vacancies with strict preference for college graduates.
The differences between the state and federal anti-discrimination enactments is that the state laws offer a wider and more specific latitude of protection than the federal law. For example, under federal laws an employer must have at least 20 employees to be covered. The state law reduced that threshold to 5 employees. Other advantages are:
- Multipliers on attorney fee awards (Provided under § 5.12),
- Specific provision for secondary offenders (§ 6.5),
- No limits on punitive and compensatory damages (§ 5.11) and
- Extension of the law to protect interns and volunteers
The recently enacted Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) Act also makes important provisions regarding workplace harassment and discrimination. The act extends the time limit within which to file a DFEH complaint by two years. The initial deadline was one year.
When you contact our age discrimination lawyers, we will help you determine which filing option will be best for you.
Where do I report an Age Discrimination Complaint?
There are a couple of agencies where an age discrimination complaint may be filed. The complaint may be filed at either the DFEH, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that proscribe discrimination against a job applicant or employee by reason of age (40 or older), race, color etc.
The agencies also have inter agency cooperation for investigative purposes. For example, the DFEH and the EEOC are usually willing to partner on investigations.
It is very important to consider your filing options carefully before filing the complaint. Choosing the agency to file might be very confusing at times and time limits set per agency may be equally hazardous to both the attorney and client.
What is the procedure for filing an age discrimination complaint
To file an age discrimination complaint at the EEOC, you must ensure that you have not exhausted the time limit. This includes compliance with time limits which is ordinarily 180 days but extended to 300 calendar days by reason of local Californian law.
The complaint may be submitted in person at the EEOC office or through the online portal. If you decide to submit a complaint in person, you may fix walk-in appointment with an office closest to you via this link. You may also fix an appointment by calling over the phone through numbers on the EEOC website.
Charges or complaints may also be filed at Fair Employment Practice Agency in California as they sometime have work-sharing agreements with the EEOC. By virtue of this, you may request for dual filing which entails that your complaint is filed at both the federal and state level. The advantage is that it opens you up to benefit the best of both worlds.
You may also file a complaint via mail if you 60 days or fewer to file a timely charge. Specific directions and necessary information are provided on the EEOC public portal.
Another available option for filing a charge is through a letter which must include the following information:
- Name, address, email and telephone number of complainant.
- Name, address, email and telephone number of the employers whom you are desirous of filing your charge against.
- The Number of employees employed in your workplace.
- A short description of the acts you consider discriminatory.
- When the discriminatory action(s) took place
- A short statement indicating what grounds you were discriminated against – Age in this instance.
- Your signature – This is a condition precedent to investigation of your complaint.
Filing an age discrimination Lawsuit
When a mediatory process set in motion by the EEOC, the aggrieved employee may resort to a lawsuit. He or she may also seek judicial remedy from the onset.
Before an aggrieved employee can sue, he or she must first comply with the notice requirement. The right to sue notice requirement is a condition precedent to instituting an age discrimination lawsuit in California.
The right-to-sue notice may be secured at the DFEH or EEOC by first filing a complaint. The complaint at DFEH may be filled online via Cal Civil Rights System where you would be required to create a free account. You may then proceed to click on the “Right to sue” button and answer questions presented to you. A printed copy of the form may be filled in the alternative and returned to the DFEH either by mail or post office.
The implication of obtaining a right-to-sue notice at either of the offices is that the employee elects to not exercise his or her option of having DFEH investigate the complaint. There is also a One year window after securing the notice within which the lawsuit must be filed.
Filing in court
After the preliminary protocols have been complied with, you can file a complaint in court showing the basis of your suit and the remedies you seek.
This stage comes immediately after the lawsuit is filed. Both parties to the suit will conduct discoveries through deposition of witnesses, interrogatories and gathering of evidence to be used at trial.
It is crucial at this stage to have a qualified attorney representing your interests as you may be invited for depositions by the respondent’s attorney. What you say in such meetings may be crucial to the eventual outcome of the case. Your attorney is also going to take depositions in this stage.
The court may mandate mediation at this stage requiring the parties to try to settle the dispute out of court before resorting to trial. Your attorney again will represent you at such mediation proceedings and may even formulate settlement offers if he finds it promising.
Many cases have been settled at this stage. However, those that fail to settle by mediation may then proceed to trial.
At this stage, each party presents evidence gathered at the discovery stage to the court. The whole process of litigation may be time consuming even to the point of culminating in weeks and you are required to be present in court. You may also need to invite expert analysts at this stage to testify for lost wages and quantum of damages.
At some point during the trial, you will be required to give testimony for which you must have been prepared by your lawyer. The trial ends with a verdict and in some cases, pronouncement of remedies.
Are there time limits I must consider?
Complaints must be filed timeously as they are bound by statute of limitations otherwise known as time limits. The statute of limitation for filing an age discrimination complaint under state laws differs by state.
Time limit for filing at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which is a federal government agency is set at 180 days. The deadline is extendable in some states with strong anti-discrimination laws. For example, In California, the time limit to file a complaint is extendable to 300 days from the day the alleged discrimination took place.
In California, the state department that handles these complaints is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
It is advised to file the complaint under both the federal and state laws within the time limits indicated.
Do you need an attorney?
It is advised that you acquire the services of an attorney for the purpose of filing your complaint or even proceeding with a lawsuit if mediation fails. With our years of experience, we can provide top notch legal services paying attention to the specific needs of our clients. Here’s what our clients say about us.
Contact Eldessouky Law today by calling 714-409-8991. We offer free case evaluations and are conveniently located in both Orange County and Los Angeles County.