This case addresses the availability of the disparate impact method of proving discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In this case, former employees of a utility company challenged a corporate reorganization in which more than 70 percent of the employees terminated were at least 40 years old. The trial court ruled that disparate impact claims may not be brought under the ADEA, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. On December 3, 2001 the Eleventh Circuit granted certiorari. In January 2002 AAUP joined a brief authored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which argues that denying the disparate impact method of proving age discrimination will thwart the intent of Congress, insulate conduct Congress has deemed extremely harmful to both individuals and the national economy, and undermine the core civil rights principle that workers should not be judged on characteristics unrelated to their participation in the work force. AAUP participated in this case because AAUP is deeply concerned that the unavailability of the disparate impact method of proof under the federal law would undermine the ability of professors to ensure freedom from age discrimination in the academic workplace.
Status: The Supreme Court heard argument on March 20, 2002. Just twelve days after hearing oral argument, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, stating only that the writ of certiorari had been "improvidently granted."