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Supreme Court Decisions


Title: Supreme Court Decisions Author: mstrubbe Last modified by: Acurry Created Date: 6/24/2008 5:36:49 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Supreme Court Decisions

Supreme Court Decisions
  • Mary Rose Strubbe
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law

Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory June
19, 2008
  • ADEA disparate impact claims
  • If employer raises the reasonable factors other
    than age defense, employer bears burden of
    persuasion as well as burden of production, as
    section 623(f)(1) of the ADEA provides an
    affirmative defense.

Sprint v. Mendelsohn February 26, 2008
  • In age discrimination case, testimony by
    nonparties alleging discrimination at the hands
    of supervisors who played no role in the
    adverse employment decision challenged by
    plaintiff is neither per se inadmissible nor
    admissible rather, the district court in the
    first instance must determine whether testimony
    of employees who were not

Mendelsohn (cont.)
  • similarly situated is relevant under Federal
    Rules of Evidence 401 and 402. If the district
    court concludes the evidence is relevant, it must
    next determine whether, under Rule 403, the
    probative value of the evidence would be
    substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair
    prejudice, confusion of the issues, misleading of
    the jury, and undue delay.

Mendelsohn (cont.)
  • Remember the district court is accorded wide
    discretion in determining the admissibility of
    evidence, especially under Rule 403.
  • So this is an opportunity to make a case-by-case
    argument at least there is no categorical rule
    against the admissibility of such evidence.

Mendelsohn (cont.)
  • Why do plaintiffs want such evidence admitted?

Gomez-Perez v. Potter
  • Plaintiff postal worker claimed she was
    retaliated against after she filed an
    administrative complaint alleging age
    discrimination under the ADEA.
  • Court held that section 633a(a)s prohibition of
    discrimination based on age (the federal sector
    provision of the ADEA) covers retaliation.

Gomez-Perez (cont.)
  • Court relied on its conclusion in Jackson v.
    Birmingham Board of Ed., 544 U.S. 167 (2005),
    finding that Title IXs prohibition of
    discrimination on the basis of sex included a
    prohibition on retaliation because of a complaint
    of sex discrimination, to be the logical analog
    of the federal sector ADEA prohibition of
    discrimination based on age.

Gomez-Perez (cont.)
  • In Jackson, Court reasoned that retaliation
    against a person because that person has
    complained of sex discrimination is another form
    of intentional sex discrimination. In
    Gomez-Perez, the Court reached the same
    conclusion (despite that fact the the ADEA
    provision that prohibits age discrimination in
    the private sector contains very different
    language and specifically prohibits retaliation).

Gomez-Perez (cont.)
  • Court relied on principles of statutory
    construction and on the fact that the ADEAs
    federal sector provision, added six years after
    enactment of the ADEA, was not modeled after the
    ADEAs private sector provisions but rather after
    Title VIIs federal sector discrimination ban.
    (6-3 decision Justice Alito wrote for the

Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki
  • What constitutes the requisite charge of
    discrimination? How much deference should be
    given to the EEOCs regulations and procedures?
  • Another ADEA case, and note the majoritys
    caution that enforcement mechanisms and statutory
    prerequisites ARE NOT THE SAME under all the
    statutes the EEOC enforces.

Holowecki (cont.)
  • The ADEA requires aggrieved employees to file a
    charge alleging unlawful discrimination with the
    EEOC before filing a suit, but the statute does
    not define charge. Holowecki and others filed
    suit, alleging that several of Fed Exs policies
    were designed to force older couriers out of the

Holowecki (cont.)
  • One of the plaintiffs filed an Intake
    Questionnaire with an attached affidavit
    describing the allegedly discriminatory practices
    in detail. Employer argued that these documents
    did not comprise a charge, and that therefore
    that employee should be dismissed. District
    court granted motion to dismiss Second Circuit
    reversed. Court agreed with the Second Circuit
    that the documents did qualify as a charge.

(No Transcript)
Holowecki (cont.)
  • Decision (7-2, majority opinion written by
    Kennedy) discusses Chevron deference rules as
    well as level of deference appropriate where the
    agency is interpreting the staute itself.
  • Court adopts the EEOCs position, which is that a
    filing is a charge when the filing includes the
    information required in sections 1626.6 and
    1626.8(a), and further, if the filing

Holowecki (cont.)
  • taken as a whole, should be construed as a
    request by the employee for the agency to take
    whatever action is necessary to vindicate her
  • This is not a state of mind requirement
    rather, the filing must be examined from the
    standpoint of an objective observer to determine
    whether, by a reasonable construction of its
    terms, the filer requests the agency to activate
    its machinery and remedial processes.

Holowecki (cont.)
  • While this permissive standard may result in a
    wide range of documents being classified as
    charges, such a result is consistent with the
    design and purpose of the ADEA. This standard
    is within the EEOCs authority to formulate, even
    if it is unfortunate that the employer had no
    opportunity for conciliation in this case because
    the EEOC didnt process the documents as they
    would a charge, and therefore did not notify
    the employer. (I think we may see some revisions
    in EEOC forms or processes as a result of the
    Courts opinion.)

CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries
  • Section 1981 also encompasses retaliation claims!
  • 7-2 Justice Breyer authored the majority opinion.

(No Transcript)