Wednesday, December 23, 2009
In line with an increasing consensus among the appellate courts, the Third Circuit found in Smith v. City of Allentown (3rd Cir 12/22/2009), that the Supreme Court's controversial Gross decision does not eliminate the McDonnell Douglas framework in Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) cases.
Ross Runkel has more:
Smith sued the employer for age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and for violation of his First Amendment political affiliation rights. The trial court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment. The 3rd Circuit affirmed.
The court recognized that Gross v. FBL Financial Services, 129 SCt 2343 (2009), expressed significant doubt about any burden-shifting under the ADEA. The court concluded that the but-for causation standard required by Gross did not conflict with the court's continued application of the McDonnell Douglas paradigm in age discrimination cases. (In accord: 2nd and 6th Circuits). The court evaluated Smith's age discrimination claim under the but-for causation standard pursuant to McDonnell Douglas to see whether he produced sufficient evidence to establish that the employer's proffered rationale of inadequate job performance for his discharge was a pretext for age-based discrimination. The court concluded Smith failed to carry that burden.
Sounds right to me under current law, but I am still hoping that Congress sends the Gross decision the way of Ledbetter, Wards Cove, etc.