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Supreme Court to Consider Age Discrimination Case. . . With a Difference


A controversial age discrimination case has worked its way up from the lower Courts and has been accepted by the Supreme Court for its consideration.

In the matter of Madigan v. Levin, Harvey Levin, age 61, is asking the court whether he might have an age discrimination case under the U.S. Constitution, when it was ruled against him under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Mr. Levin worked for the state of Illinois as an assistant state attorney general. After many years of satisfactory service, he was fired from his job at the age of 61 and replaced by a lawyer half his age. He became aware that two other attorneys were fired as well and replaced by younger ones. The response from the Attorney General's office to the charge of age discrimination was that the new attorneys were assigned different cases.

The lower Courts ruled against Levin because they claimed that the law was enacted solely to protect employees, not political appointees. Mr. Levin's attorneys then countered with a unique argument: that Mr. Levin's constitutional rights were violated, to which the Illinois State Attorney General argued that it was Congress' intention that the ADEA was the only remedy for age discrimination.

After weaving through a number of appeals courts, which rendered conflicting verdicts, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Levin's appeal that even with the ADEA as the sole basis under which age discrimination cases are brought, one of the Appeals Courts said that employers had the duty to act constitutionally as well and, therefore, Mr. Levin had the right to sue for age discrimination.

When the Supreme Court accepted the case, it was with the intention of deciding once and for all if both remedies were available in age discrimination cases. However, it became clear that during oral argument, the Court hedged and never tackled the basis under which an employee may sue for age discrimination.

What will happen to Mr. Levin's appeal is anybody's guess. What a shame! The fountain of all knowledge has once again run out of water.

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