Supreme Court Declares Age Discrimination Law Applicable to all Sizes of Municipalities

The United States Supreme Court ruled this week that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to all state and local governments regardless of the size of the local government unit.  There was a legal question whether the language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act which provides that the law applies to an employer having more than 20 employees actually applied to local government units.  The wording of the federal law was challenging and unclear.

The United States Supreme Court has held that the 20-employee reference does not apply to local government units.  As a result, every municipality, regardless of size or number of employees, is subject to a potential age discrimination complaint under the federal law.  It is likely that the same interpretation would apply under the state law in Wisconsin.

All municipalities must be careful and cannot rely upon any type of an exclusion based upon the number of employees of the municipality.  Local governments must be very careful not to engage in conduct that would be considered discriminatory based upon someone’s age.

If you have any questions about this case or decisions regarding employees, please contact Dietrich VanderWaal, S.C.