South-Western Legal Studies in Business

ADEA Permits Disparate-Impact Cases Just Like Title VII
Description Supreme Court cleared up decades of confusion by holding that an age discrimination claim based on disparate impact may be brought under the ADEA. The language of the ADEA and Title VII are nearly identical as to causes of actions.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Age Discrimination; Disparate Impact
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The City of Jackson, Mississippi, raised the pay of junior police officers more than senior police officers in an effort to bring the junior officers pay more in line with competitor cities to help attract more junior officers. Senior officers sued for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, contending that they were adversely affected by the plan because of the city's act. The district court held for the city. The appeals court held that disparate-impact claims are not allowed under the ADEA, only differential-treatment claims, but that disparate-impact claims are allowed under Title VII. However, the officers were not due relief. The officers appealed.

Affirmed. The ADEA does allow disparate-impact claims. Since its language is nearly identical to that of Title VII, Congress must have intended to allow disparate-impact claims in age discrimination cases to be brought under the ADEA. Hence, the causes of action under the ADEA are effectively the same as the causes of action under Title VII. The officers in this instance do not have a cause of action, as the City has offered a non-discriminatory rationale for its pay raise decision.

Citation Smith v. City of Jackson, 125 S.Ct. 1536 (S. Ct., 2005)

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