EEOC: Statute and Case Law Relationships.

Essay by jarretmiran January 2006

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Age Discrimination Case

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. "Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training." (EEOC 2005) While this Act was a great step forward for protecting the jobs of older workers, there were still instances of age discrimination that occur in the workplace but in different forms. In Smith v. Jackson, Mississippi, No. 03-1160, the Supreme Court made a modification to the ADEA when it decided to permit claims of unintentional discrimination or "disparate impact" claims by workers over age 40. The purpose of the ruling was to prevent unintentional discrimination that may occur because of disparate in employment benefits that relate to age, such as larger raises to employees with less tenure.

Employees who are past the targeted employment tenure might be under a different pay structure. With this longer tenure, the employees would be the target of disparate treatment that is indirectly linked to their age group. In the original 1967 Act, employees had to show intentional discrimination by the employer. The Supreme Court's ruling, in Smith v. Jackson, Mississippi, the new ruling changed and allowed that workers would not have to prove that employers are biased towards older employees.

The ADEA will continue to evolve over time. In 1990, the "Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees." (EEOC 2005) The March 30, 2005 ruling was the most recent example of a change to the ADEA that deals with benefits. As older workers reach...