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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12945
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was hired 3 years ago at age 55 by the State of California,

Customer Question

I was hired 3 years ago at age 55 by the State of California, and I was told that I would be compensated for my 27 years of prior experience within the same class of work, but when I received my 1st check, I was shocked that I was given only the entry level pay. After I questioned this, I was told that management did not want to pursue a higher amount until a year later when a younger and less experienced peer was given top step pay. I was compensated and given back pay, but still not at the top step as the peer. Again, I questioned this, and I was told that I would not be considered for any higher step. I am very frustrated to the point that I now have anxiety issues when going to work. I am seriously considering the option of quitting! What do you think?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My goal is to answer your question completely and thoroughly and to provide excellent service.

I am very sorry to hear about your situation and can understand why you are frsutrated, essentially being paid less than someone with less experience.

Let me tell you up front that employers have extremely broad distrection to pay employees whatever amounts they feel are appropriate and that these decisions need not be and indeed often are not fair. The only circumstance in which discrepancies in pay become illegal is if they are motivated by an employee's race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation.

Since age is a "protected characteristic" upon which a claim for discrimination can be based, pay decisions premised on your age CAN be actionable. The catch, however, is in proving that age and not some other legal factor was the reason for the difference in pay.

You can expect your employer to argue that the lower pay you received had nothing to do with your age and more to do with the fact that you are newer with the company and, by practice, newer employees generally receive lower pay. Although the younger less experienced employee seems to be unfairly paid more, you can also expect your employer to argue that this is due to his longer employment with the company. Loyalty and knowledge about the particular company's inner workins are valuable, and it is permissible to pay an employee more on this basis.

All of the above noted, if you believe that you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence (that is the legal standard you will face) that this discrepancy in pay is age-based, then you would have a valid claim.

An individual who believes he or she has been the subject of unlawful discrimination and wishes to file a lawsuit must first file a formal complaint of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Either the EEOC or the DFEH will issue an authorization to sue after they investigate the claim.

For information on how to bring a claim through California's DFEH, visit this link: For information on how to bring a claim through the EEOC, visit this link:

I sincerely hope that this information helps you and I wish you the best.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.