US Supreme Court shutterstock photo ID: 376063027 By Tinnaporn Sathapornnanont

High court supports feds in age discrimination actions

The Supreme Court ruled April 6 that older federal employees are entitled to a process "untainted by consideration of age" when undergoing personnel proceedings.

In a decision issued April 6, the Court ruled 8-1 that the federal-sector provision contained in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 provided that personnel decisions affecting federal employees or candidates 40 years of age or older cannot be made exclusively based on age.

The ruling came in Babb v. Wilkie, a case in which a Department of Veterans Affairs pharmacist sued the agency in 2014 for age discrimination.

Noris Babb, who was born in 1960, alleged that she was repeatedly denied promotions, training opportunities and pay raises due to her age, and that her supervisors had made ageist comments.

The decision applies to the federal workplace and does not apply to state and local governments or the private sector.

"If Congress had wanted to impose the same standard on all employers, it could have easily done so," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority's opinion.

The Court also found that employees who sue and are found to have been subject to unequal consideration must prove that discrimination was a "but-for causation" issue -- meaning the decision was solely based on age -- in order to obtain relief such as back pay, damages or reinstatement.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a concurring opinion, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joining. Justice Clarence Thomas provided the lone dissent.

Reader comments

Fri, Apr 10, 2020

To make things better for hard working civil servants is to take a survey in which they identify deficient, cheating, lying gender and age biased managers. Those managers performance would be thoroughly examined and if they were found to be deceitful when it comes to treatment of employees, their grade is down graded or they are terminated. Also employees who have been cheated out of performance ratings, should receive compensation and promotion opportunities. The big outfit in Bethesda has so many inept, crooked, deceitful, vindictive managers it is time they are purged systematically. Also purge the senior management who dictates quotas and endorses such bias.

Thu, Apr 9, 2020

The policy is unwritten but well enforced, people with age are the first the minion management go after by either giving well performing dedicated civil servants poor performance ratings. These minions they call managers cheat at teleworking, pay each other large bonuses and have quotas on how many employees are discriminated against.

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

Apr 7 comment is true but at another Federal Agency who typically ignores these same issues. So the position taken against older employees in any govt agency is widespread and pervasive

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

The big outfit in Bethesda is one of the worse age and gender biased organizations in the federal government. The management endorses such activity and actually has been provided bonuses based on the number of employees they can push into retirement or to leave the organization they work for. Until these deficient managers are held accountable for in the court of law where they are found guilty should pay a high price tag which includes immediate termination and financial compensation to employees who have been forced out. Corruption at the highest level is endorsed by other senior management.

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