Better Late than Never: EEOC Issues Proposed Amendment to Regs for Disparate Impact Claims of Age Discrimination

In response to Smith v. City of Jackson, the EEOC has issued proposed regs addressing disparate impact claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

It has been three years since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Smith v. City of Jackson, 544 U.S. 228 (2005). In Smith, the Court held that the ADEA authorizes claims of disparate-impact discrimination. The EEOC had taken this position long before the Court’s decision.

The Court also held that the appropriate standard for determining the lawfulness of a contested practice is whether the practice can be justified by a “reasonable factor other than age” (the “RFOA test”). This was a departure from the more stringent, “business-necessity” requirement maintained by the EEOC. The new proposed regulation would reflect the City of Jackson decision. The proposed regulation also clarifies that the employer has the burden to show that a RFOA actually exists.

The text of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found in the March 31, 2008, edition of the Federal Register.