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City in California Sued for Age Discrimination

The City of Milpitas has been accused of age discrimination in hiring and was sued in a San Jose federal district court. According to the suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the city violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) when the its hiring officials failed to hire qualified applicants who were all over 40 years old in favor of a younger, less qualified applicant. The suit alleges that the hiring officials disregarded rankings provided by a three-person panel review of the candidates, which indicated that the four older applicants were more qualified that the younger applicant whom the city hired.

The ADEA prohibits age discrimination by employers with at least 20 employees against applicants and employees who are 40 years old or older with respect to hiring, firing, compensation, and privileges of employment. This includes stating age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements, unless age is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary for the employer’s business. While employers are not prohibited from asking applicants about their age or dates of birth, these requests must be made for a lawful purpose and will be scrutinized closely by EEOC and the courts. Notably, the ADEA only works in one way and does not prohibit employers from favoring workers because they are older – in effect, employers can discriminate against younger individuals and hire older workers even if the younger applicant is 40 years old or older.

In comparison, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits age discrimination. Similar to the ADEA, it protects employees who are 40 years old or older from discrimination in the workplace or in hiring practices. The main difference between the ADEA and FEHA is its scope: FEHA applies to any employer with at least five employees, which is a lower threshold than the ADEA.

Dejban Law can help protect your equal employment opportunity rights if you believe you’ve been subjected to age discrimination in violation of federal and California law. Contact us now by email at info@dejbanlaw.com or by phone us at (818) 325-3820 for a free and confidential initial consultation.