U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Employers-At Last!!!
The U.S. Supreme Court holds plaintiffs in age discrimination suits to a higher standard. As some of our clients have found out over the last 18 months, former employees that have been laid off have come back against them with allegations of age discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also announced that age discrimination claims rose 15% in 2008.
The ruling by the high court has now increased the burden on the plaintiff to prove that their termination was a violation under the federal Age Discrimination Act (ADEA). The court held on June 18, 2009, that plaintiffs in age discrimination cases always bear the burden of proving that an adverse employment action would not have been taken against them “but for” their age.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a significant win for employers defending against aga discrimination claims. The decision clearly articulates the burden on the former employee bringing the age discrimination claim to prove that if it wasn’t for their age they would not have been terminated. But as always, I believe in throwing caution to the wind. Employers will still want to have the proper documentation to show that whatever the adverse action taken was in fact for all the right reasons.
Now for the bad news. Unfortunately, employers may not have a very long opportunity to appreciate the benefits of the Supreme ourt’s decision. One Senator, Patrick Leahy, a democrat from Vermont was quite disturbed by the decision and criticized the opinion as “overreaching by a narrow majority of the court that will have a detrimental effect on all Americans and their families.” This simply means that since the democrats are in control they can very easily change the law to favor the older worker. You may recall this happened earlier in the year. President Obama changed the law regarding the statute of limitations from 6 months to 2 years regarding claims of unequal pay.
Now for the good news. You still have us to fight on your behalf (LOL)! I have been very successful in fighting the age discrimination cases. Let’s make the proper decisions and have the documentation to support that decision and we should be fine.