Labor & Employment

Federal age bias law is rarely the basis for EEOC lawsuits

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Only two court cases filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year cited the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, according to AARP.

Those were among 86 discrimination cases filed in court, according to EEOC statistics. Few cases are filed because age discrimination cases can be time-consuming, expensive and difficult to prove, the New York Times reports in a DealBook column.

One impediment is a 2009 Supreme Court ruling involving demoted insurance executive Jack Gross. The court said Gross had to prove that age discrimination was the prime, or motivating, reason for the adverse employment action.

Still, difficulties in proof aren’t stopping some plaintiffs, who are claiming they were deliberately targeted in layoffs.

One pending suit, filed against Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, claims nearly half the 360 workers laid off in 2013 were at least 40 years old, and some were let go because of serious medical conditions suffered by themselves or their spouses. The suit claims that, after the layoffs, Spirit held a job fair where it sought workers for jobs that appeared similar to the positions that had been eliminated.

Spirit maintains it has complied with the law. The suit is pending in federal court in Wichita, Kansas.

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