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A recent survey of Americans over the age of 45 conducted by the AARP reveals that age-based discrimination remains commonplace in workplaces throughout California and around the country. More than a third of the respondents said age discrimination at work is very common while 61 percent reported either witnessing such discrimination or being a victim themselves.

Older workers are also far more likely to be coping with long-term unemployment. While only 18 percent of workers between the ages of 16 and 54 are considered long-term unemployed, this figure leaps to 61 percent among workers over the age of 45. This is a concern for both lawmakers and advocacy groups like the AARP because 35 percent of all American workers will be 50 years old or older by 2022.

The AARP study reveals that some older workers expect the government to fight for them but are often reluctant to step forward themselves. While 90 percent of the AARP respondents voiced support for strengthening the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, only 3 percent said that they had reported age-based workplace discrimination to their supervisors or human resources departments. The most common form of discriminatory behavior reported by the respondents were offensive or negative remarks.

Older workers in California are protected against workplace discrimination by both federal and state laws. However, employers often mount vigorous defenses to this kind of litigation to avert a flood of similar claims. Attorneys with experience in this area may prepare for aggressive defense tactics by collecting as much information as possible before taking action. Furthermore, they could encourage workers who are being treated unfairly to gather whatever supporting documentation they can. Evidence that could support an age discrimination claim could include email exchanges, incentive programs that place older workers at a disadvantage and behavior that nurtures a hostile work environment.

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