Monday, March 18, 2013

SCOTUS Grants Cert. in Constitutional Age Discrimination Case

This morning, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Madigan v. Levin (SCOTUSBlog entry here). Per the Petition for Certiorari, the question presented is:
[Whether] state and local government employees may avoid the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act’s comprehensive remedial regime by bringing age discrimination claims directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In other words, can a state or local employee skip all of that EEOC stuff (required by the ADEA) and just go straight to court with his or her age discrimination claim (under the Constitution)?

The Constitution includes the Equal Protection clause, which (via § 1983) could allow an employee to go straight to court with a discrimination claim against a state actor. However, Congress has set forth a thorough framework to resolve age discrimination claims under the ADEA. That framework includes administrative requirements, like filing an EEOC charge. The employer argues that the ADEA displaces the constitutional claim.

There's a circuit split on the issue (and "muddled" case law in my home 3rd Circuit - see p. 11 of Petition), so hopefully the Court will resolve the issue. There's also a side issue about whether the defendant in this case has qualified immunity.