Supreme Court Again Ignores Legal Inequality of Older Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to resolve a federal circuit split on the question of whether plaintiffs suing for age discrimination or retaliation can recover punitive damages and  damages for pain and suffering.

The  Court denied certiorari in a case filed by Susan  L. Vaughan, 54, a former nurse supervisor who sued Anderson Regional Medical Center in Mississippi for wrongful termination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

At the hospital’s request, a federal judge dismissed Vaughan’s claim for compensatory and punitive damages for retaliatory discharge. Currently age discrimination victims are limited to monetary loss only .

The issue harkens back to Congress’ decision in 1964 to exclude age as a protected class in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color and national origin. Title VII’s plaintiffs are entitled to seek compensatory and punitive damages.

When Congress passed the ADEA, it incorporated the damages provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) into the ADEA..  The FLSA, a federal law that regulates the payment of overtime and minimum wage, limits damages to monetary loss only. Continue reading “Supreme Court Again Ignores Legal Inequality of Older Workers”

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