Title VII provides that it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) provides that "[i]t shall be unlawful for an employer-(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age…." 29 U.S.C. §623(a).
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) provides that:
[i]t is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California: (a) For an employer, because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, to refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Gov’t Code §12940.
Judicial analysis of the state and federal statutes is similar. In the absence of direct evidence of discrimination, courts apply the burden-shifting framework enunciated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). The employee must first establish a prima facie case of age discrimination. If the employee has justified a presumption of discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its adverse employment action. If the employer satisfies its burden, the employee must then prove that the reason advanced by the employer constitutes mere pretext for unlawful discrimination. “As a general matter, the plaintiff in an employment discrimination action need produce very little evidence in order to overcome an employer's motion for summary judgment.” Chuang v. Univ. of Cal. Davis, Bd. of Trs., 225 F.3d 1115, 1124 (9th Cir.2000).
An employee can establish a prima facie case of disparate treatment by demonstrating that he was (1) at least forty years old, (2) performing his job satisfactorily, (3) discharged, and (4) either replaced by a substantially younger employee with equal or inferior qualifications or discharged under circumstances otherwise giving rise to an inference of age discrimination. An inference of discrimination can be established by showing the employer had a continuing need for the employee’s skills and services, in that their various duties were still being performed, or by showing that others not in their protected class were treated more favorably. (Quotation marks and citations omitted.)