California workers over 40 may face age discrimination when applying for jobs. While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, there are some scenarios in which it may be possible. One of the most common situations is an employer that hires a younger person who is less qualified. To avoid discrimination, the employer must give a reason besides age that the less-qualified person was hired.
Some employers, knowing they cannot specify that they only want young people, recruit in ways that shut out older workers. For example, a company might only recruit through colleges or avoid putting entry-level positions on its website. A company might also specify the need for a certain type of program or training that has been only recently available. Another tactic a company may use is specifying a low number of years of experience. Two class-action lawsuits, one against Pricewaterhouse Coopers and another against R.J. Reynolds, deal with these scenarios. In a few cases, someone in a company's human resources department might become a whistleblower to highlight age discrimination.
A recent Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study found age discrimination to be particularly prevalent for people over 50 and for women. Researchers sent out fictitious resumes and found that older workers were less likely to be asked to interview.
People who believe they have faced age discrimination either during the hiring process or after becoming an employee might want to discuss employee rights with an attorney. For employees, documenting interaction with supervisors, instances of discrimination and performance reviews may be important.