Are Board Retirement Age Policies Illegal?

Allen Matkins

Allen Matkins

In the Mentor Blog today, Lynn Jokela writes about mandatory board retirement age policies at S&P 500 companies.   Are such policies illegal in California?

California's Unruh Civil Rights Act which provides:

all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.

Civ. Code § 51.  The statutory listing of categories protected from discrimination is long, but it is not exclusive.  Courts have held that the Act is intended to prohibit all arbitrary discrimination by business establishments, regardless of whether the basis for that discrimination is listed in the statute.  Javorsky v. Western Athletic Clubs, Inc., 242 Cal. App. 4th 1386, 1394 (2015).  Thus, discrimination by age may in some circumstances violate the Act.  See, e.g, Candelore v. Tinder, Inc., 19 Cal. App. 5th 1138 (2018) (finding plaintiff had sufficiently alleged a claim for age discrimination).   

The Unruh Civil Rights Act is not merely precatory.  Section 52(a) imposes liability on "[w]hoever denies, aids or incites a denial, or makes any discrimination or distinction contrary to Section 51".   Liability may include actual damages, possible treble damages and attorney's fees.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Allen Matkins | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Allen Matkins

Allen Matkins on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.