Workers in California may be more likely to report workplace discrimination based on age, race or sex than other types of discrimination. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, these are the three most common forms of workplace discrimination reported, with age discrimination in third place. However, most forms of workplace discrimination are never reported. A 2018 study by the AARP found that 60% of employees 45 and older said they had experienced or witnessed age discrimination at work.
There are a number of reasons discrimination is often unreported. Workers face a big obstacle in proving that an employer’s actions were discriminatory. Because employers’ decisions are rarely transparent, they often claim that workers were let go because they violated a company policy or because the company needed to downsize to save money. Some studies have found that employers are twice as likely to win in court than employees.
A court case may make things even more difficult for employees trying to win age discrimination suits. It involves a pharmacist who says she and other women over 50 were passed over for training and promotion in favor of women younger than 40. The case went to the Supreme Court where the government argued that employees have to prove age was the sole factor, putting a greater burden of proof on the employee.
People who believe they are facing age discrimination or another type of workplace discrimination might want to consult an attorney about what they should do. Employees may be worried that they will face retaliation for reporting discrimination, such as being fired or demoted. An attorney may be able to advise employees of their rights. The first step may be documenting any discrimination and reporting it at work and then pursuing the case through legal channels if necessary.