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EEOC clarifies scope of Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Last month in our Greenbelt Employment Law Blog, we discussed the case of a law professor who is suing the University of Maryland as well as five other law schools for age discrimination. The 62-year-old man alleges that the schools passed him up for a tenured position due to his age.

This kind of discrimination, if proven to have taken place, is of course illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. This employment law statute like many others is often misunderstood by both employers and employees. This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a rule to clarify the role of the ADEA.

The new rule clearly states that the ADEA bars any and all policies and practices which have an effect of harming older people more so than younger people, unless the employer is able to show that the policy or practice stems from a reasonable factor other than age. The rule is meant to illuminate the law for employees, employers and the courts as well as align EEOC regulations with Supreme Court rulings.

According an EEOC statement, "The final rule strikes the appropriate balance between protecting older workers from discriminatory, unreasonable business decisions and preserving an employer's ability to make reasonable business decisions."

The rule fits well with a 2008 Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled that employers have to show that there was a reason other than age when layoff decisions seem to target older employees.

The rule is due to be published in the Federal Register today.

Source: Business Insurance, "EEOC issues Age Discrimination in Employment Act rule," Judy Greenwald, March 29, 2012

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