The short answer is no. In California, there are different laws which prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of age. Some of these prohibitions can be found in federal law. Others can be found in state law. Each statutory prohibition defines the term “employer” differently. In order for the prohibition to apply, the employer has to fit the statutory definition of employer.

Let’s take a look:

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The main source of federal law prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Congress enacted the ADEA with the aim of tackling employment discrimination against older workers, specifically addressing the challenges they encountered when seeking new job opportunities after losing their previous positions.

Additionally, the ADEA sought to eliminate arbitrary age-based restrictions that were prevalent at the time of its implementation. It reflects Congress’ acknowledgment that older workers are particularly susceptible to prolonged periods of joblessness and the associated negative consequences, including the erosion of their skills, diminished morale, and reduced attractiveness to potential employers.

The ADEA’s purpose, therefore, is “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.” 29 USC § 621(b).

With some exceptions, the ADEA generally applies to employers in industries affecting commerce and with 20 or more full-time or regular part-time employees for each working day, in each of 20 or more calendar weeks, in either the current or preceding calendar year. It also applies to “any agent” of these employers. 29 USC § 630(b).

Fair Employment and Housing Act

The main source of state law prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Although the FEHA differs from the ADEA in certain respects, their objectives are identical. Therefore, California courts look to federal case law in the interpretation of analogous provisions of the FEHA. The FEHA is designed to supplement, not supplant or be supplanted by, existing anti-discrimination remedies, in order to give employees the maximum opportunity to vindicate their civil rights against discrimination.

Generally, the FEHA applies to employers with five or more employees. As with everything else in the law, there are exceptions to this rule. Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926. For instance, a religious corporation or association not organized for private profit is generally exempt from the FEHA.

Contact Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. for Guidance

Employers and employees in Southern California can contact Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. to learn more about age discrimination law. We are proud to be a leading authority on employment law in California and have helped hundreds of clients achieve results. Click here to learn about your rights in the workplace with us. Our Employment Law experts are here to guide you through age discrimination issues.