Employment Law

Age Discrimination

Can a younger person in the protected class sue for age discrimination?

No, the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in General Dynamics v. Cline (2004) that the ADEA does not sanction so-called reverse age discrimination claims. In Cline the Court considered whether a retirement plan that treated older workers in the protected class better than younger workers amounted to age discrimination. The Supreme Court said no, reasoning that “the ADEA was concerned to protect a relatively old worker from discrimination that works to the advantage of the relatively young.” The Court concluded: “We see the text, structure, purpose, and history of the ADEA, along with its relationship to other federal statutes, as showing that the statute does not mean to stop an employer from favoring an older employee over a younger one.”

Firing someone just because they are getting up in years is against the law. Employers sometimes try to do this anyway, though, to avoid paying retirement and other benefits (iStock).

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