Steven Langstaff, a former employee with the Oceano Community Services District, has filed a federal employment lawsuit against the district alleging discrimination based on age and disability. According to a news report in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Langstaff alleges in the lawsuit that he was wrongfully terminated and denied his due process rights.
Langstaff started working for the district in June 2006. However, he says he had to take time off for surgery and other medical issues. Langstaff says his manager disparaged him for taking time off and not being “on board” with the district’s operations. He also alleges that supervisors assigned him more demanding physical jobs and kept lighter work for younger staff members.
Langstaff was fired from his job on December 13, 2011 at age 52. He says in the lawsuit that the termination has caused him significant financial loss and emotional distress. He is seeking compensation for lost earnings, benefits, employment opportunities, pain and suffering, attorney fees and court costs. District officials have disputed these allegations.
Understanding Federal Laws
It is illegal under federal law to discriminate against employees based on age or disabilities. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. This law specifically prohibits statements or specifications in job notices or advertisements of age preference. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of age and denial of benefits to older employees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all employment practices. Under the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as someone “who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having a disability.”
Protecting Your Rights
In addition to age and disabilities, employers are also prohibited under federal law from discriminating based on race, color, nationality, gender and religious beliefs. This means that employers cannot base decisions regarding hiring, firing, training or promotions based on such personal information. Pregnant women are also considered “disabled” under employment law. Not hiring a woman because she is pregnant or firing an employee when she is on maternity leave is illegal. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, an experienced California employment attorney may be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.