Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Supreme Court ruling a boon for feds

It never occurred to me that the law on age discrimination at work did not apply to federal workers. But that was the case until Tuesday, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects federal employees as well as private employees who face retaliation after complaining about discrimination. 


Until this decision, the law applied to private sector employees but its silence with respect to Federal workers excluded them. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that the law applies to both categories of employees. 


The case involves Myrna Gomez-Perez, a postal worker in Puerto Rico who alleged she was being discriminated against because of her age. Gomez-Perez, then 45 years of age, filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. She said that she was subjected to retaliation from her supervisors, including a drastic reduction in work hours.


In addition to bringing federal workers under protection of the civil rights law, the Supreme Court ruling held that the law authorizes workers to sue when they are subjected to retaliation after complaining about age discrimination, not only when they claim discrimination.


In a time when government’s workforce is graying, this is an encouraging development. Perhaps this decision will be another support to whistle-blowers who may fear retaliation when they speak out about age discrimination. It is also reassuring to know that federal workers have equal opportunity protections just as other citizens do.  The EEOC’s Web site has up-to-date information.

Posted by Judith Welles on May 27, 2008 at 12:13 PM


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