Important Age Discrimination Cases

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The legislation in any area of the law is just the beginning.  It is court decisions that interpret the law and give it fuller meaning.  The same is true for age discrimination law. Listed below are some of the major cases in age discrimination law.

  • Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 528 U.S. 62 (2000) - the Court held that Congress did not have the authority to authorize certain kinds of age discrimination lawsuits against states.  This means that state employees cannot sue the state for money damages for violations of the ADEA.  State employees can seek prospective injunctive relief against state officials for violating federal law under Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908),
  • Morelli v. Cedel (2nd Cir. 1998) 141 F3d 39, 45 – the ADEA applies to a foreign company with domestic employees.  In determining whether the company has 20 or more employees, all employees of the company must be counted whether in the US or outside of it. 
  • Donald Showalter v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 190 F3d 231 - department seniority as a reason for termination could be a pretext for discrimination.  In making a prima facie case, the plaintiff must prove the employer retained workers significantly younger than the plaintiff. 
  • Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, 125 S.Ct. 1536 (2005) – ADEA prohibits practices that appear neutral but has a disproportional impact on older workers. 
  • Mahoney v. RFE/RL, Inc (DC Cir. 1994) 47 F3d 447, 449.  - The ADEA protects US citizens working for US employers operating abroad except where it would violate the laws of that country.
  • General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581 (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1236 - The ADEA does not forbid favoring the young over the old, but it does prohibit having a discriminatory preference for the young over the old.
  • Gomez-Perez v. Potter, 476 F3d 54.  - allowed federal workers who experience retaliation because of reporting age discrimination under the law to sue for damages.
  • Blakeney v. Lomas Information Systems, Inc. (5th Cir. 1995) 65 F3d 482, 484.  - Employers may enforce waivers of age discrimination claims made without EEOC or court approval if the waiver is "knowing or voluntary".

Hiring Legal Representation

Consult a lawyer who specializes in employment law, someone experienced in all the nuances of the Age Discrimination Act and its interpretative case law.  They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your case.  A good employment lawyer can advise you on your rights under state law as well. 


The ADEA and the case law interpreting it is the body of age discrimination law.  State statutes and case law can give the worker additional or better protection.  An experienced employment lawyer is your best protection if you believe you are the victim of discrimination.