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Forced Retirement Based On Age Can Lead To Discrimination Claims

Age discrimination against employees over 40 years of age is a violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), and federal law.

The FEHA and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating against employees in their employment based on several protected statuses including age, race, religion, color, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry, national origin, mental and/or physical disability, medical condition, pregnancy, denial of medial and family care leave or disability pregnancy leave and/or protesting illegal discrimination related to one of these categories.

Forced resignations and forced retirement based simply on one's chronological age is against the law. With very few exceptions, the law mandates that no matter what your age, if you are able to perform the essential functions of the job, you cannot be terminated or forced to resign because you reach a certain age that an employer does not like. Forced retirement because of age discrimination can lead to a claim of constructive discharge and a lawsuit for age discrimination under the FEHA.

One hospital in Colorado has recently been sued by the EEOC for age discrimination because it is alleged that it forced employees to resign because of their age. Some of the conduct alleged is that comments were made by managers that younger nurses could "dance around the older nurses" and that younger "fresher" nurses were preferred to older nurses.

"Research shows that pervasive stereotypes about older workers still persist - for example, there are widespread stereotypes that older workers are less motivated, flexible, or trusting and that a younger workforce is preferable," said Phoenix District EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "These stereotypes are flatly untrue and must be recognized for what they are - prejudice and false assumptions."

Acting Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, "It's sad that a dedicated nurse would serve for 27 years and then be rewarded with age discrimination."

If your employer has a mandatory retirement age or if you are subjected to disparaging comments and actions in an attempt to have you resign based on your age, you may have an age discrimination case. In California the Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from age-based discrimination.