Earlier this month, the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (“EEOC”) issued revised regulations under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision of General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline. The revised regulations emphasize that the ADEA does not prohibit employers from favoring an older employee over a younger employee who are both over the age of 40.
Generally, the ADEA protects employees over the age of 40 from employment discrimination with respect to any term, condition or privilege of employment, including compensation and benefits. In Cline, a group of employees between the ages of 40 and 49 sued their employer claiming that the employer’s decision to eliminate retiree health benefits for all employees under the age of 50 constituted unlawful age discrimination under the ADEA. Under the employer’s collective bargaining agreement, employees who were 50 or older retained their retiree health benefits. The Supreme Court rejected the plaintiff-employees ’ reverse age discrimination age claim, emphasizing that the ADEA only prevents discrimination that favors younger workers, not actions that favor older workers in the same protected category.
The EEOC’s revised regulations can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/E7-13051.htm.