A Lower Hurdle for Federal Employees

In a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court held that federal employees face a lower hurdle in proving age discrimination than those in the private sector. In an 8-1 decision in Babb v. Wilkie, 18-882 (October Term 2019), the Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and held that, because the plain language of 29 U.S.C. §633a(a), applicable to federal employees, mandates that personnel decisions must be made “free from any discrimination based on age,” a federal employee can prevail in an age discrimination claim by proving that age was but one factor in the employment decision. Thus, even if the federal agency had legitimate reasons for the challenged personnel action, such as, for example, that the employee that received the position or promotion instead of the claimant was more qualified, if age was a factor in the decision, the personnel action is unlawful. An employee in the private sector who alleges age discrimination under the ADEA, by contrast, still must prove that but for the employee’s age, the challenged personnel decision would not have been made. If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination, please call Luchansky Law at 410-522-1020 to arrange a consultation.

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