There is some concern that a recent Supreme Court ruling will make it very difficult for an employee to win an age discrimination lawsuit. The High Court ruled in Gross v. FBL Financial Services that the worker has the full burden of proving that age was the reason why the worker was fired or demoted. This decision changed the longstanding law of many federal Appellate Courts which had been that if the employee could prove that age was one of the deciding factors in the employer’s decision then the burden of proof shifted to the employer to show that age was not the primary or motivating factor.
The Court was split, 5-4, in this decision and many senior citizen advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to enact a law that will reverse the decision. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 4 justices who dissented in the decision called the majority’s decision “especially irresponsible.”
While the decision of the Supreme Court is disappointing, employees who were victims of age discrimination should not despair. Age discrimination is still illegal in the country and even in these difficult economic times, workers have the right to do their jobs without being discriminated against because of their age. While winning a lawsuit that alleges age discrimination in employment may be more difficult, it is not impossible. Potential plaintiffs should not be discouraged. Instead, they should seek the counsel of an experienced attorney who is not afraid to fight for them.