(AP) The Supreme Court made it easier Wednesday for any worker over 40 to allege age discrimination, ruling that employers can be held liable even if they never intended any harm.
About 75 million people — roughly half the nation’s work force — are covered by the decision. However, the unanimous ruling makes it clear that older workers will have a high threshold to prove their claims.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that in some cases employers are within their rights to treat workers differently because of age.
“Age … not uncommonly has relevance to an individual’s capacity to engage in certain types of employment,” wrote Stevens, who at 84 is the court’s oldest member.
The ruling sides with older police officers in Jackson, Miss., in saying they do not have to prove that the city deliberately tried to discriminate against them, just that the policies disproportionately harmed them. Nevertheless, the high court dismissed the suit, saying officers did not demonstrate that.