U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

ADEA@50 Snapshots: 2007 - 2017

ADEA@50 (2007-2017):  The Supreme Court recognizes more differences between the ADEA and Title VII for private employees. The EEOC brings renewed attention to the ADEA.

In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court deepens the differences between the ADEA and Title VII. In Gross v. FBL Financial Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009), the Court relies on textual differences between the laws to hold that ADEA plaintiffs cannot prove unlawful discrimination merely by showing that age was a motivating factor, as Title VII plaintiffs can. Rather, to prove unlawful age discrimination, older workers must show that age discrimination would not have occurred "but for" the employee's older age. In Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC, 554 U.S. 135 (2008), the Court holds that a policy relying in part on age to deny disability benefits is not facially discriminatory, contrary to the Court's approach in Title VII benefits cases. In Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, 554 U.S. 135 (2008), the Court explains the differences in the ADEA's and Title VII's defenses to claims of disparate impact.

At the EEOC, the number of ADEA charges filed with EEOC reaches its high point with 24,582 charge filings in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession. In 2010, more women than men file ADEA charges for the first time in EEOC's history.

The EEOC holds two commission meetings on age discrimination, Age Discrimination in the 21st Century-Barriers to the Employment of Older Workers, and the Impact of the Economy on Older Workers, in response to widespread layoffs, a record spike in age discrimination charges, threats to employee benefits, and recent court decisions that affect the enforcement of age discrimination laws. The EEOC amends its ADEA regulation to define the "reasonable factor other than age" defense to ADEA disparate-impact liability following two Supreme Court decisions. 

To kick off its commemoration of the ADEA's 50th anniversary in 2017, the EEOC holds a commission meeting, The ADEA @ 50 - More Relevant Than Ever. Experts testify that age discrimination continues to impose significant barriers to the employment of older workers and damages the economic health of the country. They recommended strategies to increase age diversity in employer recruitment and retention practices. They also note that the ADEA deserves a thorough review to ensure it is meeting the needs of today's workforce.