In April 2013, California Superior Court awarded two plaintiffs $2.6 million in damages in an age discrimination case. The plaintiffs, Nimet Behar, aged 49, and Clorinda Greek, aged 63, were both terminated from their jobs in September 2009. They submitted evidence that they’d been subjected to comments about their ages and that the bank manager wanted “younger, hungry” salespeople. The defendant contended that the plaintiffs were terminated because of misconduct. With no blemishes on the plaintiffs' personnel records, the jury found for the plaintiffs.
Protections against age discrimination in the workplace
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment or discrimination in employment because of age, race, religion, marital status, gender expression, national origin, ancestry or disability. Complaints of discrimination need to be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year from the date of the alleged discriminatory act.
FEHA provides a successful plaintiff in an age discrimination case with numerous remedies. Available compensatory damages and injunctive relief include:
Emotional distress damages
Reasonable attorney’s fees
Expert witness costs
Reinstatement with same seniority
However, plaintiffs have an obligation to mitigate damages, such as seeking comparable employment.
Restrictions to age discrimination suits
In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, the U. S. Supreme Court held that plaintiffs in an age discrimination case filed under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) must demonstrate that age was the only cause for the adverse treatment. In other words, plaintiffs must provide evidence that they would not have suffered disparate treatment if not for their age. It is noteworthy that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision only affects cases filed under the ADEA and not cases filed under the FEHA.