Age Discrimination in the Workplace: Protecting Older Adults

Age discrimination is illegal, intentionally inflicts emotional distress. Contact the Age Discrimination Lawyers Helmer Friedman LLP for help.

In the modern workplace, diversity and inclusion have assumed paramount importance, and rightly so. As an HR professional, a mature employee, or a seasoned job seeker, it’s crucial to understand the laws and protections in place to combat ageism. With the rise in remote work and a concerted effort to create equitable work environments, age discrimination is more relevant than ever. Here, we explore how laws safeguard employees over 40, share significant age discrimination cases, and discuss the impact on mature workers and job seekers. We also provide strategies for HR professionals to prevent ageism and promote a more inclusive workforce.

Age Discrimination Laws: Know Your Rights

The ADEA in Context: An Essential Guide

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a civil rights law that protects workers and job applicants 40 or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, labor organizations, employment agencies, and the federal government. It explicitly prohibits age discrimination in hiring, promotions, discharge, compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Notable Cases: Justice Prevails

Several high-profile cases have highlighted the prevalence of age discrimination and the legal recourse available. Organizations like J&M Industries and Pete’s Car Smart have been held accountable for wrongful terminations and discriminatory practices. In another instance, Scripps Clinical Medical Group faced the brunt of legal action after imposing a mandatory retirement age, thereby sidelining skilled professionals from the workforce.

$1,643,000.00 Arbitration Award Age Discrimination Case Mr. Greg Helmer of Helmer Friedman LLP obtained an award on behalf of an employee who had been discriminated against and harassed because of his age. At the time, the landmark arbitration award was reputed to be one of the largest ever received by an individual in a discrimination case. Needles v. 1928 Jewelry, Ltd., Mel Bernie & Co., et al.

Enlightening Settlements: A Financial Overview

J&M Industries: A Case Study in Age Discrimination

In a striking example of age discrimination, J&M Industries came under legal scrutiny for terminating an employee based on age, leading to a settlement of $105,000 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As the employee neared her 65th birthday, management began questioning her retirement plans, which the employee declined, expressing her intent to continue working. Despite her clear communication, J&M Industries dismissed her, citing economic reasons and claiming her purchasing agent position was eliminated. However, this assertion was quickly undermined when, less than a month after her dismissal, a much younger male in his thirties was hired for the purportedly eliminated purchasing agent role—clear evidence that prompted the EEOC to take action.

Pete’s Car Smart: A Case of Costly Discrimination

In a definitive ageism case, Pete’s Car Smart faced legal consequences when they terminated an employee who had devoted 18 years to the company following a brief medical leave. The abrupt dismissal occurred despite years of dedicated service and was, as the courts found, a direct result of age discrimination. To resolve the suit filed under the ADEA, Pete’s Car Smart agreed to a settlement of $145,000, a costly reminder of the legal and moral imperative to uphold anti-discrimination practices in the workplace. The case has since been a touchstone in discussions about the rights of older employees and the need for vigilance against such prejudices in employment decisions.

Scripps Clinical Medical Group: An Expensive Lesson in Equality

Scripps Clinical Medical Group agreed to a substantial settlement of $6.875 million in a significant ruling that sent ripples throughout the healthcare industry. The settlement came in response to a charge of age and disability discrimination filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The medical group had enforced a mandatory retirement policy that required physicians to retire at a certain age, overlooking their actual capability to perform their duties. This blanket policy disregarded individual qualifications and abilities, effectively discriminating against a class of physicians solely based on age and, in some cases, disability. The hefty settlement marks one of the most notable resolutions in the healthcare sector and emphasizes the costly consequences of disregarding federal non-discrimination laws.

The Impact of Age Discrimination on Mature Employees

Stalled Career Progression and Unemployment

Age discrimination can significantly impede a mature employee’s career path. The lack of promotions and lay-offs due to age can disrupt a lifetime of work and dedication to an organization. Sadly, many employees find themselves unexpectedly unemployed with limited prospects for re-employment.

The Psychological Toll

Job insecurity and the perceived value placed on youth can lead to severe psychological stress, anxiety, and a sense of identity crisis among mature employees. These psychological effects not only impact individual employees but can also decrease workplace morale and job satisfaction.

Challenges Faced by Mature Job Seekers

Overcoming Age-Related Barriers

For job seekers over 40, the path to employment is rife with age-related hurdles. Some employers hold onto the stereotype that older workers are less adaptable to technology, less productive, or more expensive, leading to difficulties securing new employment opportunities.

Dispelling Misconceptions

Educating employers and challenging misconceptions about older workers is vital. Experience, wisdom, and loyalty are just a few of the many assets that older job seekers bring. It is vital to shift the narrative from one of burden to one of value and contribution.

The Role of HR Professionals in Combatting Ageism

Proactive Prevention Strategies

HR professionals are pivotal in creating a workplace culture that celebrates age diversity. By implementing policies that promote equal opportunities and fair treatment, they can set the standard for inclusiveness within the organization.

Training and Initiatives

Regular training on anti-discrimination laws coupled with diversity initiatives can help sensitize the workforce and prevent discriminatory practices. By fostering an environment where every employee feels valued, HR professionals can actively work to eliminate ageism.

Conclusion: A Call for Inclusivity

In conclusion, age discrimination is a serious issue that demands our attention. Employers and employees must advocate for inclusivity, respect, and fairness in the workplace. By understanding the laws, sharing in the victories of significant cases, and being cognizant of mature workers’ challenges, we can collectively work towards a future where age does not dictate professional worth. It is only through these collective efforts that we can create a workplace that is truly equitable and representative of the diverse talent pool available to us.

It is also important to note that age discrimination is a complex issue that may require legal intervention. If you or someone you know has been a victim of age discrimination, consider seeking legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer of Helmer Friedman LLP Age Discrimination Lawyers in Los Angeles. Together, we can help ensure that no one loses their job due to age.

Age Discrimination by Medical Group Imposing Mandatory Retirement Age

Age Discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles safeguard your rights to a workplace free from age discrimination.

Scripps Clinical Medical Group recently settled an age and disability discrimination charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal agency investigated the allegations and found that the company violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by imposing a mandatory retirement age on physicians, regardless of their abilities to perform their jobs.

To settle the case, Scripps Clinical Medical Group entered into a four-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC. The company will pay $6,875,000 to a class of individuals impacted by the mandatory retirement policy. Additionally, the company has rescinded the policy, and the Board of Directors will reaffirm this action.

Scripps Clinical Medical Group will inform employees that the company does not have any policy in which age is a factor in making employment decisions. The company will also review, revise, and distribute its policies and procedures against discrimination based on age and disability. Moreover, it will require division heads, department heads, executive leadership, and members of human resources to attend training on the ADEA and ADA. The EEOC will monitor compliance with this agreement.

The EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows emphasized the importance of protecting older workers and identified discrimination against them as one of the Commission’s priorities in its new Strategic Enforcement Plan. Anna Y. Park, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, commended Scripps Clinical Medical Group for addressing the concerns in this charge and for rescinding its discriminatory policy.

Jacquelyn Famber, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Office, noted that mandatory retirement age based on assumptions and stereotypes is against the law, and the EEOC will continue to pursue such discriminatory policies. Older workers are valuable members of our workforce, and their age should not be used to make employment-based decisions.

Prospective Release Of Claims Did Not Violate Civil Code section 1668

Age discrimination and harassment are illegal.

Prospective Release Of Claims Did Not Violate Civil Code section 1668 (A Statute Providing That A Contract Releasing A Party From Future Violations Of Law Is Invalid As Against Public Policy)

Castelo v. Xceed Financial Credit Union, 2023 WL 3515225 (2023)

Xceed Financial Credit Union employed Elizabeth Castelo as its Controller and Vice President of Accounting. In November, Xceed informed Castelo her employment would be terminated effective December 31st. On November 19, the parties entered into a Separation and General Release Agreement, in which, among other things, Xceed agreed to pay Castelo a severance payment in consideration for a full release of all claims, including a release of age discrimination claims. The Agreement also provided that, as of Castelo’s separation date, she would have to sign Exhibit “A” to the Agreement reaffirming her commitment to abide by the terms of this Agreement and effectuating a full release of claims through her December 31st separation date. The releases extended to all known and unknown claims arising directly or indirectly from Castelo’s employment. Xceed intended that Castelo would sign the reaffirmation on the date of her separation (December 31st). However, Castelo signed it on the same date she signed the main Separation Agreement, on November 19th.  Xceed did nothing to correct that error. Castelo remained employed by Xceed until December 31. In January, Xceed paid Castelo, and Castelo accepted the settlement payment. Castelo made no attempt to revoke the Separation Agreement or Reaffirmation at any time before or after receiving payment.

In August, Castelo filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The parties stipulated to arbitration. Xceed filed a motion for summary judgment based on the releases in the Separation Agreement and the Reaffirmation, and the arbitrator granted the motion. Castelo moved to vacate the arbitration award, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded his powers by enforcing a release made unlawful by Civil Code section 1668, which prohibits pre-dispute releases of liability in some circumstances. The trial court denied the motion to vacate and entered judgment confirming the arbitration award. The Court of Appeal affirmed:
The arbitrator correctly ruled the release did not violate Civil Code section 1668. Castelo signed the separation agreement after she was informed of the decision to terminate her but before her last day on the job. At the time she signed, she already believed that the decision to terminate her was based on age discrimination and that she had a valid claim for wrongful termination. The alleged violation of FEHA had already occurred, even though the claim had not yet fully accrued. Accordingly, the release did not violate section 1668 because it was not a release of liability for future unknown claims.

Race, National Origin, Age Discrimination and Retaliation lawsuit filed against HCA Healthcare

Age discrimination is illegal, intentionally inflicts emotional distress. Contact the Age Discrimination Lawyers Helmer Friedman LLP for help.

A federal agency has charged that a for-profit graduate medical education provider in Nashville terminated an employee for filing a discrimination complaint.

HCA Healthcare, Inc. (along with its divisions Tennessee Healthcare Management, Inc. and GME Overhead), a for-profit healthcare corporation based in Nashville that provides graduate medical education in over 2,300 facilities, is facing a lawsuit. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused HCA Healthcare of violating federal law by denying a promotion to an employee based on his age, race, and national origin and subsequently firing him in retaliation for complaining about the discrimination.

The employee, who is Asian American, has claimed that despite meeting all necessary qualifications, HCA Healthcare selected an underqualified white candidate for the promotion over him. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking injunctive and monetary relief against HCA Healthcare for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Race and national origin discrimination is illegal and harmful, intentionally inflicting emotional and financial distress. Contact the National Origin Discrimination attorneys Beverly Hills Helmer Friedman LLP for help.

It is imperative to abide by state and federal laws that prohibit any form of discrimination based on race or nationality in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII, is a critical law that unequivocally prohibits racial discrimination in every aspect of employment. Employers are legally bound to ensure they do not engage in discriminatory practices such as refusing to hire or promote someone or treating them unfairly regarding compensation or job benefits due to their race or national origin.

Age discrimination and harassment are strictly prohibited by both California and Federal law. It is important to note that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) is a federal law that provides extensive protection to individuals aged 40 or above from age-based discrimination in employment. Any form of discrimination against a person due to their age with respect to any employment term, condition, or privilege, including but not limited to hiring, firing, layoff, compensation, promotion, or job assignments, is considered illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

It is worth noting that HCA Healthcare owns and operates over 100 hospitals and employs over 275,000 people in multiple states and the United Kingdom.

R3 Government Solutions to Pay $82,500 to Settle Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Age discrimination is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

R3 Government Solutions, LLC, a federal contractor, has agreed to pay $82,500 and provide other relief to settle a race discrimination and retaliation case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The lawsuit claimed that R3 had discriminated against and retaliated against a Black woman who worked for the company as a recruiter. The EEOC alleged that the recruiter opposed R3’s discriminatory hiring practices, which included rejecting candidates based on age and disadvantaging them due to their race or national origin. The company fired her after she spoke out against these hiring practices.

This alleged conduct is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits retaliation and race discrimination, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose age discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia after trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.

It is important to hold employers accountable when they retaliate against employees who oppose discriminatory hiring practices. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is committed to preventing and remedying discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Retaliation against employees who speak up against discriminatory conduct cannot be tolerated. The EEOC is dedicated to seeking relief for workers who take a stand against their employer’s discriminatory behavior.

Ministerial Exception Application When Plaintiff Position Does Not Include Religious Instruction or Activities

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Triable Issues As To Whether Ministerial Exception Applied To Plaintiff’s Position Because She Did Not Teach Religion To The Students Nor Did She Lead The Students In Any Religious Activities Or Services

Atkins v. St. Cecilia Catholic Sch., 90 Cal.App.5th 1328 (2023)

Francis Atkins, a former employee of St. Cecilia Catholic School, a religious elementary school, sued for age discrimination in violation of FEHA. The Superior Court granted St. Cecilia’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Atkins’ suit was barred by the ministerial exception. Atkins appealed.

Initially, Atkins argued that St. Cecilia waived the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense by failing to assert it in its answer. The Court of Appeal rejected that argument:


The Supreme Court has determined that the ministerial exception operates as an affirmative defense to an otherwise cognizable claim. Ordinarily, an affirmative defense must be alleged in the answer, or it is waived. This does not mean, however, that the failure to plead an affirmative defense in the answer necessarily precludes the defendant from raising it in a motion for summary judgment. Instead, courts generally have allowed an affirmative defense to be asserted for the first time in a motion for summary judgment absent a showing of prejudice. As explained by one appellate court: Given the long-standing California court policy of exercising liberality in permitting amendments to pleadings at any stage of the proceedings, we believe that a party should be permitted to introduce a defense in a summary judgment procedure so long as the opposing party has adequate notice and opportunity to respond.
In this case, Atkins has not shown prejudice from St. Cecilia’s failure to allege the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense in its answer. As St. Cecilia explained in its motion to set aside the scheduling order, at the time the parties stipulated to continue the trial date (but not the deadline for filing a motion for summary judgment), the Supreme Court had not yet issued its decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe. Accordingly, at that time, St. Cecilia did not believe it had grounds to seek summary judgment based on the ministerial exception. Once the Supreme Court issued the decision in that case, St. Cecilia gave Atkins notice of its intent to assert the defense when it filed the motion to set aside, seeking permission to move for summary judgment based on the exception. Atkins had an opportunity to oppose St. Cecilia’s request on both substantive and procedural grounds. After the trial court granted St. Cecilia permission to raise the ministerial exception in a summary judgment motion, Atkins had a full opportunity to oppose that motion on the merits.
Atkins asserts that she suffered prejudice because discovery had closed by the time St. Cecilia filed its summary judgment motion, and thus, she did not have an opportunity to conduct discovery that was tailored to address the ministerial exception. As St. Cecilia points out, however, Atkins could have asked the trial court to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her to conduct additional discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h). While Atkins argued in her opposition that she was prejudiced by St. Cecilia’s failure to raise the ministerial exception in its answer, she never requested a continuance so that she could seek any necessary discovery. On this record, St. Cecilia did not waive the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense.


Atkins v. St. Cecilia Catholic School, 90 Cal.App.5th 1328 (2023)(cleaned up).

Next, Atkins argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to St. Cecilia because her former job position with the school does not fall within the scope of the ministerial exception. Atkins specifically asserts that her job duties as both an office administrator and an art teacher were secular in nature and did not involve the teaching of religion to the students. St. Cecilia contended that Atkins is subject to the exception because the school entrusted her with educating and forming students in the Catholic faith, and Atkins fully embraced that role in her teaching position. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Atkins, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in granting the summary judgment motion because there were triable issues of material fact as to whether the ministerial exception applies to Atkins’s former job position as an art teacher and an office administrator.