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ADEA Applied to Foreign Government Agency Operating in the U.S.
Description Federal district court ruled that an age discrimination suit could proceed against the British Tourist Authority, which has an office in New York to promote tourism in Britain. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act does not apply because, although a government agency, it is engaged in commercial activity.
Topic International Law
Key Words Age Discrimination, Foreign Employers, Jurisdiction, Foreign Sovereign Immunity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Elliott worked for the British Tourist Authority (BAT), an agency of the British government, for 27 years before he was fired. He sued for wrongful termination in violation of the ADEA. BAT moved for dismissal on the grounds that it is immune from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.
Decision Motion denied. The ADEA exemption for "foreign persons . . . does not carve out an exclusion from coverage for Americans working in the United States for foreign corporations." The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act "provides the sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign state in the courts in this country." The BAT is an agency of a foreign state; it is not a corporation. However, the FSIA exception for "commercial activity" provides that sovereign immunity does not apply where "the action is based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state." While BAT does not do business itself, its purpose is to promote tourism in Britain, which is commercial activity.
Citation Elliott v. British Tourist Authority, ---F.Supp.--- (1997 WL 726009, S.D., N.Y.)
986 F.Supp. 189 (S.D., N.Y., 1997)

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