NY Judges File Lawsuit Alleging Age Discrimination
Covid-19 has caused many unexpected things to happen in 2020.
In particular, the economic slump following the spread of the virus has caused many people to struggle mentally and emotionally. Financially speaking, businesses and even the government had to get creative to make ends meet. Few, however, could have imagined that these conditions could lead to an indirect attack on the judiciary and its long-standing traditions.
Near the end of 2020, 46 senior New York judges were denied recertification by the court administrator. Why? The administrator cited, among others, “economic reasons” amidst the “coronavirus fallout.” Believing that they were the victims of age discrimination, ten judges joined together in a lawsuit against the state chief judge and the administrative board.
Under the law, you cannot be discriminated against by your employer or potential employers because of your age. Let our employment discrimination review some basics about age discrimination in employment.
What is Employment Discrimination Because of Age?
Put simply; employment age discrimination is the act of discriminating against a person over the age of 40 concerning his or her compensation, terms, conditions, employment, status, or opportunities.
One typical example of employment age discrimination is laying off employees for no other reason except their age. Another example is not hiring someone for a job because of age, even though the job can be performed by any person regardless of age.
Employment discrimination based on age in the US has evolved over the years and does not necessarily reflect widely-held conceptions about how it occurs.
For instance, in some parts of the country and specific industries, age discrimination occurs even against people under 40. For example, in high-tech sectors, employees from 28 to 35 sometimes face discrimination for being too “old” to work in the industry.
Interesting Recent Age Discrimination Cases
In 2008, the Court ruled in the case of Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab that employers have the burden of proving that their actions were due to reasonable factors other than age. This case changed the way age discrimination lawsuits were fought. It shifted the obligation of justifying a layoff or other employment decision to the employer.
However, just over a year later, the Court issued an opinion in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. In this opinion, the Court stated that for age discrimination lawsuits by private-sector employees, it is the employee’s to prove age was the “but for” (or condition “sine qua non”) cause of the employer’s actions.
This opinion would be later be bolstered in 2020 when, in Babb v. Wilkie, the Court ruled that plaintiffs (employees) need only to prove that age was the “motivating factor” in the employer’s decision which was the subject of their lawsuit. Still, the Court noted that the “but for” cause was still necessary to determine the proper remedy.
Will 2021 see a new landmark case coming from the alleged age discrimination of the ten judges?
The New York Judges Filed an Age Discrimination Lawsuit
The age discrimination lawsuit is led by Justice Bernice Siegal, a justice in the state Supreme Court in Queens. At the time, before the denial of her application to extend employment, Justice Siegal was just a few months shy of 70.
Under the law, judges retire at the age of 70 but can apply for recertification to continue serving. The re-certification application is a request to continue as a judge for another two years, after which a judge may apply again for another two years. Judges may engage in this process three times, until they are 76.
Traditionally, these applications are granted without issue. The decision to deny recertification to 46 judges was not only shocking but outside the regular norms.
The certification board argues that the only reason the judges were denied recertification was to save the state approximately $55 million over the next two years. Also, the denials would allegedly save hundreds of other employees in the judiciary from layoffs. However, the judges who filed the lawsuit believe otherwise, arguing that age was the primary motivating factor of their denial.
It is not yet clear what the outcome of this case will bring. It is quite possible that the decision might pave the way for additional age discrimination lawsuits. As we re-emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and economic realities set in, will more businesses be laying off older, higher-paid workers to make room for new employees?
Will there be a slew of age discrimination lawsuits? We will have to wait and see.
Contact Our Age Discrimination Lawyers Today
If you have lost your job or no one will hire you and think your age is a primary motivating factor, call our lawyers today to find out if you are facing age discrimination.
Our employment discrimination lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP are dedicated to helping you fight for your rights. Call us today at 800-403 6191 or 516-350-5555 to schedule your free employment discrimination consultation.
- Fertig, B. (4 December 2020). New York Judges Sue State For Age Discrimination. Retrieved at https://gothamist.com/news/new-york-judges-sue-state-age-discrimination on 13 February 2021
- Weiser, B. (21 December 2020). New York is Ousting Older Judges to Save Money. They’re Fighting Back. Retrieved at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/21/nyregion/nyc-judges-age-discrimination.html on 13 February 2021