Employment discrimination claims are a challenge because almost all end up in Federal Courts where the law has favored employers. That’s why when an employee wins a claim, it’s important. When an employee wins a claim in the U.S. Supreme Court, it is an even more important victory because that decision will impact every employee who subsequently files a claim.
That’s why the decision on Monday, April 6, 2020 is so important. In Babb v. Wilkie, the Supreme Court ruled that “federal workers 40 and older are entitled to a personnel process ‘untainted by any consideration of age.’” In its 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court found that “it is conceivable that Congress meant for federal workers to have higher protection from possible age discrimination than workers in the private sector or who work for state and local governments,” but “that to get relief such as hiring, reinstatement or monetary damages, a worker still must eventually prove that the adverse employment action would not have been taken except for the worker’s age.” Every Justice joined in the decision, except Justice Thomas, who dissented.
The decision is a victory for every worker because the language of Justice Alito’s Majority Opinion is relevant to anyone who claims that their age was a factor in the decision to fire them. As the syllabus to the Opinion summarizes, “The plain meaning of §633a(a) [of the ] demands that personnel actions be untainted by any consideration of age. To obtain reinstatement, damages, or other relief related to the end result of an employment decision, a showing that a personnel action would have been different if age had not been taken into account is necessary, but if age discrimination played a lesser part in the decision, other remedies may be appropriate.
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