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Core Provisions: New House and Senate bills would amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to clarify the plaintiff’s burden of proof in lawsuits brought under the statute. Under the bills, a plaintiff can establish an unlawful employment practice by demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that age was a “motivating factor” for the adverse employment action, even if other factors also contributed to the decision. Alternatively, the plaintiff can establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged action would not have occurred absent the employee’s age.
The bills were introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s June 18, 2009 decision in Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs. Inc., 129 S. Ct. 2343 (2009), in which the Court held a plaintiff bringing an ADEA disparate treatment claim must prove that age was the “but for” cause of the adverse employment action. The bills’ stated purpose is to ensure the standard for proving unlawful disparate treatment under the ADEA and other anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws mirrors the standard under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including amendments made by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
Status: Rep. Miller (D-CA) and 16 co-sponsors introduced the House version of the bill (HR 3721) on October 6, 2009, and it was referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Education and Labor later that day. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Harkin (D-IA) and 16 co-sponsors.