SW Legal studies in Business

Reverse Age Discrimination Meaningless at Law
Description Appeals court held that reverse age discrimination is meaningless at law. There is either age discrimination or not. For an employer to give better benefits to workers over age 50 than to workers between ages 40 and 49 may be age discrimination.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Age Discrimination; Reverse Discrimination; Benefits
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cline and other employees sued General Dynamics for age discrimination based on a term in a new collective bargaining agreement that held that only employees over age 49 would be eligible to receive full health benefits upon retirement. Previously, any worker with 30 years of seniority could receive such benefits. Cline asserted that the age requirement was age discrimination, in the form of reverse age discrimination, as it meant that he and other workers between the ages of 40 and 49 might receive fewer benefits than workers age 50 and over. The district court dismissed the suit as reverse age discrimination is not covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Cline appealed.
Decision

Reversed. The workers between the ages of 40 and 49 are protected by the ADEA against age discrimination. The plain language of the statute is clear that Congress intended protection for all workers age 40 and over who are treated differently due to their age. Giving more favorable treatment to workers age 50 and over than is given to workers between ages 40 and 49 is age discrimination. The term "reverse discrimination" has no meaning at law; an act is either discriminatory or it is not.

Citation Cline v. General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc., 296 F.3d 466 (6th Cir., 2002)

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