Elon Musk’s various businesses have been in the news frequently in recent months, rarely for anything good. Recently, SpaceX returned to the news putting a spotlight on employee age discrimination after a former staff member alleged that he suffered from discriminatory employment practices due to his age.
John Johnson, formerly a principal engineer at the company, was hired in 2018 at age 58. While he received solid performance reviews, he claims that his responsibilities were slowly stripped from him after he took a leave of absence for back surgery. Johnson alleges that many aspects of his job were taken from him and awarded to younger employees until he had no responsibilities left and resigned in July 2022. He claims that he suffered from age-related discrimination intended to force him out of the company.
This is all too common of a story. Age-based discrimination forces many workers out of their jobs when they need to save for retirement. Here’s what you need to know about ageism in the workplace and what you can do if you have suffered from it.
What Is Age Discrimination
Under federal and California law, age discrimination is defined as making adverse employment decisions about an employee because they are 40 or older. Both the Civil Rights Act and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) bar employers from favoring younger employers over those 40 and older in matters such as:
- Hiring and firing
- Pay, raises, and bonuses
- Training opportunities
- Work assignments
Examples of this discrimination include stripping older employers of their responsibilities or titles to grant them to younger workers, as happened to Johnson. It may also include preferentially hiring or promoting younger workers, laying off older workers instead of younger ones, or refusing to provide training to older workers.
What You Can Do About Workplace Age Discrimination
If any of the above situations sound familiar, you may have been harmed by your employer’s ageism. However, you can fight to keep your career.
First, start documenting examples of ageism in your workplace. Save emails and communication showing that you are passed over for opportunities or relieved of duties against your will. Tracking this behavior will help you prove that the problem is a consistent trend.
Next, bring up the matter with your supervisor or HR. You may start with a casual conversation, but you will likely need to escalate to a formal complaint. This shows that you attempted to resolve the matter internally.
Finally, if you are still facing discriminatory actions, consult with an experienced attorney. They will help you determine the best path forward to protect your career.
Contact Us About Workplace Discrimination
While SpaceX discrimination is making the news, it is unfortunately common in every industry. If you have suffered from ageism at work, reach out to the experts at Alexander Morrison + Fehr LLP. From our Los Angeles office, our skilled attorneys are prepared to represent you in your employee age discrimination claim. Call us at 310-394-0888 or reach out online to learn more about how we can help you.