The US Supreme Court ruled Monday in Babb v. Wilkie that the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) “demands that personnel actions be untainted by any consideration of age.”
The Court heard oral arguments in January and had to decide whether the ADEA prohibitS age from being the “but-for cause” of an employment decision, or if the ADEA prohibitS age from being any consideration at all in employment actions.
After holding that the plain meaning of the statutory language “free from any discrimination based on age” prohibits age from being any consideration in an employment action, the Court went on to address remedies available to parties injured by violations of the statute.
This does not mean that a plaintiff may obtain all forms of relief that are generally available for a violation of [the ADEA], including hiring, reinstatement, backpay, and compensatory damages, without showing that a personnel action would have been different if age had not been taken into account. To obtain such relief, a plaintiff must show that age was a but-for cause of the challenged employment decision. But if age discrimination played a lesser part in the decision, other remedies may be appropriate.
This decision requires federal employee personnel be held to the same as non-federal employee personnel decisions when it comes to age discrimination in the workplace.