Wednesday, November 30, 2005

SCOTUS allows ADEA Plaintiffs to pursue "disparate impact" claims; however Court will allow employers the easier to meet "reasonable factors other than age"defense from Wards Cove United States: Supreme Court Allows Disparate Impact Claims Under ADEA Vedder Price Law Firm U.S. Supreme Court decided on March 30, 2005 that a claimant may establish liability under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) even if there is no intent to discriminate. Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, No, 03-1160. "Although Title VII has been construed to prohibit facially neutral employment policies that have a disparate impact on minorities and women, the federal courts have been divided on whether the ADEA permits these type of claims. In 1993, the Supreme Court held that an employee who was discharged shortly before his pension would have vested did not state a cause of action under the ADEA. Hazen Paper v Biggins. Many federal courts interpreted that decision as disapproving of disparate impact liability under the ADEA." "The ADEA contains a provision not in Title VII which states that "any action otherwise prohibited [under ADEA]" is lawful "where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age discrimination" (RFOA). The Court concluded that this provision could not be referring to intentional discrimination claims so it must be referring to disparate impact claims." 42 USC 2000-e-2(a)(2)and (k) "the Court decided that an employer can justify a policy that has a disproportionate adverse effect on older employees by showing the policy is based on "reasonable" non-age factors...thus handing the ADEA disparate impact plaintiffs a "Pyrrhic victory."

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