Client Alert

Supreme Court Rules the ADEA Does Not Bar Employers from Favoring Older Workers

March 08, 2004

Neal D. Mollen and Dana T. Buckman

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not prohibit what is commonly referred to as “reverse discrimination” — that is, favoring older workers over younger workers — even when the younger workers are within the class protected by the ADEA. In a 6 to 3 decision written by Justice Souter (Justices Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia dissenting), the Court reversed a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit, which had held that younger workers between the ages of 40 and 49 could sue their employer under the ADEA for retiree health benefits provided only to workers who were age 50 or older.

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