SW Legal studies in Business

Law Enforcement Exemption to ADEA Rules Must Be Justified
Description

Appeals court held that while Congress allows law enforcement agencies to have hiring rules that allow them exemptions from the ADEA, such rules must be shown to be bona fide, not a pretext to evade the purpose of the law.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Age Discrimination; Law Enforcement; Bona Fide Plan; Pretext

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Indiana law states that one must be between the ages of 21 and 40 when hired as a state trooper. They may work until age 65. The state claims this is part of a bona fide plan related to ability to perform the tasks needed by troopers. Davis was a trooper who quit at age 42 to take another job. Two months later he decided he had made a mistake and asked for his old job back. The state police said no, he was over age 40 so was not eligible to be hired under the bona fide hiring and retirement plans allowed by Congress for law-enforcement agencies. Davis sued for violation of the ADEA. The district court dismissed his suit, holding that the state had a bona fide plan that applied to the situation. Davis appealed.

Decision

Vacated and remanded. The matter should be tried to determine if the plan is in fact a pretext or subterfuge to evade the ADEA. A plan is “bona fide” when it is real, not an excuse. Davis asks why he could have worked until age 65, yet was ineligible to be rehired at age 42. That is a good question that should be considered by the district court.

Citation Davis v. Indiana State Police, 541 F.3d 760 (7th Cir., 2008)

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