Older workers in California are protected against age discrimination at their workplace under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and state anti-discrimination laws. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal workers may have legal remedies available to them when they suffer adverse job actions based on their ages as well as other reasons.

According to a report in USA Today, the Supreme Court returned an eight-to-one decision in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the ADEA prohibits job decisions that are based even partially on age considerations. The case involved a clinical pharmacist who was employed by the Department of Veteran Affairs who claimed that age discrimination at her workplace caused a hostile work environment.

While the court ruled that job decisions based partly on age can form the basis for some type of legal remedy, it also ruled that age considerations would need to be a key factor in the adverse job action for a plaintiff to be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, and other remedies. The plaintiff sued the Department of Veteran Affairs because of multiple decisions that negatively impacted her pay, opportunities for promotions, and the duties of her job.

Californians who are aged 40 or older are protected against age discrimination by the federal ADEA if they work for covered employers that have 20 or more employees. People who work for smaller companies may be covered under the state’s anti-discrimination law. Those who believe that their employers have taken adverse job actions against them because they are older in favor of younger employees may want to consult with experienced employment law attorneys who handle workplace discrimination cases. An attorney might analyze the facts of what happened and offer an honest assessment of the legal merits of the potential claim.