For more information please call  800.727.2766


Age Discrimination: 50’s v. 40’s

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) protects workers who are at least 40 years of age from discrimination based on their age. Pittsburgh Glass was accused of violating that statute.

Pittsburgh Glass terminated around 100 employees via a reduction in force. Seven of the employees, who were all over 50 years of age, sued claiming that the reductions in force disproportionately impacted workers older than 50. Workers under 50 years of age but over 40 were not laid off in greater numbers than their co-workers under 40. Thus, the question for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was whether the over 50 years old employees could proceed when the discrimination was only against part of their protected class.

The Third Circuit, creating a division among some of the circuits, decided that a subgroup could indeed be formed. According to the court, “The ADEA prohibits disparate impact based on age, not forty-and-older identity” and “requiring the comparison group to include employees in their 40’s has no logical connection to that prohibition.” Its decision was based on two U.S. Supreme Court cases, one of which allowed an ADEA case to proceed when a 56-year-old worker was replaced by another employee who was over 40. Employers should be aware of how reductions in force impact sub-groups that are over 40 years of age.