Supreme Court Raises The Bar For Proving ADEA Claims


A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has raised the bar for employees hoping to prove age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., No. 08-441, U.S. Supreme Court (June 18, 2009), the Court was asked to decide whether a plaintiff must submit direct evidence of discrimination in a suit filed under the ADEA in order to shift the burden of persuasion to the defendant. By a narrow 5-4 majority, the Court held the burden-shifting analysis utilized in Title VII cases did not apply to ADEA claims and, consequently, a plaintiff who brings an age discrimination claim under the ADEA must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that age was the “but for” cause of the challenged adverse employment action.

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