South-Western Legal Studies in Business

ADEA Protects Relatively Old Workers Compared to Relatively Young Workers
Description Supreme Court held that a change in company benefits that reduced retirement benefits for workers then under age 50 was not age discrimination. The concern of the ADEA is to protect relatively old workers in contrast to relatively young workers, so the workers age 40-49 could not claim the Act had been violated.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Age Discrimination; Coverage; Younger Workers
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A collective bargaining agreement between an employer and a union eliminated the need for the company to provide health benefits for employees when they retired except for current workers at least 50-years old. Cline and other employees, over age 40 but not yet 50, sued, contending that the agreement violated the ADEA because of their age. The district court dismissed the suit; the appeals court reversed, holding that the ADEA did protect the younger workers from such discrimination. The employer appealed to the Supreme Court.

Reversed. The purpose of the ADEA is to protect relatively old workers from discrimination that works to the advantage of relatively young workers. Discrimination against relatively young workers is outside of the Act’s protection. The employer did not illegally discriminate against workers age 40-49 by eliminating the retiree health insurance benefits for workers then under age 50. The action did not target relatively old workers.

Citation General Dynamics Land Systems v. Cline, 124 S.Ct. 1236 (Sup. Ct., 2004)

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