The Employment Court Case Everyone’s Talking About

Sorry, no firefighters here.

On June 18, the Supreme Court reversed a long-standing rule about age bias suits: previously, if a worker said he was fired because of his age, the burden of proof was on the employer.

The 5-4 vote in Gross vs. FBL Financial Services ruled that the burden of proof was on the employee to prove that age discrimination was the direct cause of the layoff, not just one factor.

What’s this all mean? Click the jump to find out.


Since everyone now expects Boomers to work longer than they’d planned (thanks to their plummeting 401(k)s) and some are bound to be laid off, age discrimination lawsuits were expected to become more common.

This ruling may slow down the pace of lawsuits, Joseph Beachboard, a Los Angeles-based labor and employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins, told HRE Online.

“I still think we’re going to see an uptick … just maybe not as much as you would have without this decision.”

There are parallels to the Lilly Ledbetter decision from two years ago, when the court ruled that Ms. Ledbetter could not sue for being paid less than men since she learned about the discrepancy after the statute of limitations expired. Congress passed a bill to reverse the Ledbetter decision early this year, and it was the first measure President Obama signed into law. Congress may try to reverse this decision as well: “I suspect if Congress decides to reverse it,” Lawrence Z. Lorber, a Washington-based partner in the law firm of Proskauer Rose, “it will be a clearer articulation of the law than this was.”