Federal law prohibits many if not most employers from engaging in age discrimination.
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA for short, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees over 40.
At the federal level, only older employees can file age discrimination claims; younger employees are not protected from discrimination, and employers are free to prefer older employees over younger employees.
On the other hand, an employee can be the victim of age discrimination even at the hands of someone who is also over 40.
It is important for residents of the Los Angeles area to realize that, in addition to federal laws, state and local laws may offer additional protections against age discrimination.
There are in fact different types of age discrimination which the federal law prohibits.
Perhaps most obviously, the law forbids employers from discriminating against employees, or potential employees, in any aspect of employment. In other words, an employer cannot use promotions, firings, hiring, candidate searches and the like as a means of targeting workers over 40 for adverse treatment.
On a related point, even if an employers has what seems to be a neutral and across-the-board rule, an employee can still claim discrimination if it tends to harm older employees and cannot be justified on grounds other than age.
Employers have to thus be particularly careful that layoffs do not serve as a way of weeding out older employees.
Finally, workers over 40 have the right to expect an environment relatively free of harassment, that is, getting picked on or bullied because of their age. While employers can be expected to prevent all rude behavior or inappropriate teasing, they must have processes in place to address this sort of behavior.