Age Discrimination Decision by Supreme Court Angers Congress

The debate over age discrimination in the workplace has reached a boiling point. According to October 6th news reports, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Tom Harkin and other leaders of the Democratic establishment have launched actions intended to overturn a landmark Supreme Court verdict on the subject.

In the June ruling — decided by a razor thin 5-4 margin — the Supreme Court ruled that age discrimination claimants must meet a higher burden of proof than had been required. Previously, if a claimant could demonstrate that his or her age had been a factor in a firing or demotion, then the burden was on the employer to prove that age bias wasn’t the only factor in the decision.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that Congress had never explicitly eased the burdens of plaintiffs in cases involving the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, even though Congress HAD done so with respect to other kinds of employment discrimination cases. Therefore, reasoned the majority, the ruling to expand the burden of plaintiffs in these kinds of cases could be justified, since it did not explicitly violate the intent of lawmakers. (The Democratic committee chairmen pushing the current bill have vehemently disputed this argument.)

This epic battle between branches of government over age discrimination cases comes at a pivotal time — age bias cases soared nearly 30 percent last year over 2007 numbers.

If you, a relative, or a coworker has been the victim of age discrimination, harassment, or retaliation at the workplace, connect with the lawyers at Joseph & Kirschenbaum today for a free consultation regarding your rights and possibilities for legal remedies. Call (212) 688-5640 today: it’s free and confidential. Or, to learn more about what sets our firm apart, visit www.jhllp.com.