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How age discrimination can hurt people during their prime earning years

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination

Young adults just starting their careers don’t have much life experience or work experience. The pay that they command usually reflects their entry-level skills. When people have decades of employment experience on record, they can potentially command far better compensation for the work that they perform.

Professionals in their 50s and beyond often earn far more than younger workers in the same field. Unfortunately, while older, more experienced workers may have industry connections and hands-on learning to make them better employees, the companies that they work for don’t always treat them with the respect that they deserve.

Age discrimination is a major concern in California, especially in youth-oriented industries such as entertainment and information technology. Age discrimination can significantly reduce someone’s earning potential during what should be their most lucrative working years.

How age discrimination hurts older workers

California state law and federal statutes consider being 40 or older to be one of the numerous protected characteristics listed for the benefit of modern workers. Businesses typically should not consider someone’s age if they are over 40 when making decisions about an individual’s employment prospects.

Sadly, many companies intentionally try to hire and promote younger workers. Age discrimination can look like older workers having a harder time getting their foot in the door with a new company. People in management and Human Resources might screen out applicants who use outdated resume formats or two spaces after the end of a sentence because those indicate an applicant of advanced age.

Even those who already have good jobs can experience age discrimination. Companies may be more likely to terminate older workers during mass layoffs or to exclude them from new opportunities and promotions. Age discrimination can potentially hold someone back from achieving their full professional potential and could ultimately have a damaging effect on their finances.

Particularly when workers face clear and/or truly consequential examples of discrimination based on their age, they may have reason to take legal action against an employer that refuses to hire them, decides to fire them or treats them differently than younger workers. A lawsuit could financially compensate someone for the professional setbacks they have endured due to a company’s misconduct in this regard.