Many employers in California are vigilant about ensuring their staff is trained to prevent sexual harassment, religious discrimination and other well-known forms of discrimination and harassment on the job. When compared to the rights of LGBT workers, pregnant employees, minorities and others who are often singled out at work, it can be easy to forget that an employee can be discriminated against for his or her age. You may want to learn more about age discrimination to avoid legal repercussions. 

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination or harassment involves numerous behaviors regarding a person’s age that result in a hostile work environment or adverse employment decision. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act is meant to protect workers age 40 or older from being treated unfairly, and states may have their own laws on age discrimination, as well. You should take note of the following points: 

  • Age-related harassment can include offensive or inflammatory comments about a person’s age, but it does not usually pertain to isolated incidents or simple teasing. 
  • Employers should not fire, fail to hire, assign jobs, designate salary, train, award promotions, designate benefits or involve any other term or condition of employment solely based on a person’s age. 
  • Age discrimination may involve anyone, including other employees over the age of 40. 

Age discrimination and harassment happen for many reasons. Often, employers believe people over a certain age have outdated job skills and are not qualified or able to do the work that younger employees can do. An employer may worry that an older worker will retire soon or suffer from health complications that result in too much time being taken off work. Also, as you may know, many employees can be petty and cruel and enjoy making others feel uncomfortable or unhappy. 

Regardless of the reasons, your employees deserve to work in an environment where they feel safe and valued. Understanding discrimination laws can prevent legal problems for your company. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.