Supreme Court Raises Burden of Proof For Age Discrimination Claims

A last session ruling by the US Supreme Court has Democrat Judiciary Committee members up in arms. The ruling, they say, makes it harder for fired employees to sue on grounds of age discrimination. Claiming a violation of civil rights law, Senators Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller have introduced legislation to overturn the ruling and ensure that age discrimination receives the same recognition as other forms of workplace discrimination.

Recalling the claims of “activist judges” and “legislating from the bench” heard in the confirmation hearing of Justice Sotomayor, Leahy termed the Supreme Court’s approach to employment law as “very very activist”. With this ruling, a “mixed motive” (meaning that age was a contributing , but not sole factor in the termination) was not a sufficient to win the case. So it seems an employer can say “we discrimnated against you because of your age but we would have fired you anyway for a legitimate reason”. It is as if the court has given employers a map of how to discrimate based on age without any repercussion.

It is important that you contact your represenative and encourage them to change the law to make any age discrimination illegal. A worker should be judged on their perfomance alone, not their age.

If you suspect discrimination of any sort has played a part in your termination, please contact the Higgins Firm at 800.705.2121 or at

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