In January, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only applied to current employees, not job applicants. The case, Kleber v. CareFusion involved a then 58-year-old applicant who argued that CareFusion discriminated against him in the hiring process.
Reuters reports that a petition has been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for a review of the lower court’s ruling, saying that the ruling will weaken the ADEA.
Laurie McCann, senior attorney for the AARP Foundation Litigation says, “”The Seventh Circuit’s decision essentially takes us back to 1967, when age limits in job postings were commonplace.”.
According to the AARP press release, by the end of June, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the case. The court may just review the case on written briefs alone, but it could also select Kleber v. CareFusion for an oral argument before the court. Of course, the court doesn’t even have to grant a review.
In addition to the appeal to the Supreme Court, other steps can be taken. Congress has the power to introduce reform to the ADEA and strengthen protection for experienced workers, i.e., those over 40 years old.
The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (S.485 and H.R. 1230) would amend the ADEA to change the provision that requires employees to prove that age discrimination was the deciding factor in the case. POWADA would recognize mixed-motive claims against experienced/older workers.
The Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act, S.1082 (BeHEARD) was just introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to give workers more support when seeking justice against harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It’s been referred to Committee.
Age discrimination is a serious issue in the workplace, and our culture is slowly taking steps to deal with it (key word being “slowly”), and we’ll be monitoring the changes as we move forward.