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Legal Memorandum: Age Discrimination under the ADEA

Issue: Under federal law as applied in the 9th Circuit, what is the appropriate standard used to determine whether a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of age discrimination under the ADEA?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Age discrimination; ADEA claim
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 450 U.S. 248; 413 F.3d 1090
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2007

To make out a prima facie case of age discrimination under the ADEA, a Plaintiff was required to show only that he was over 40, qualified for the position, and subjected to an adverse employment action under circumstances that, if left unexplained, would raise an inference of age discrimination.  See Texas Dep’t of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981) TA l "Texas Dep’t of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248 (1981)" s "Texas Dep’t of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine (1981)" c 1 .  See also Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co., 413 F.3d 1090, 1094 (9th Cir. 2005) TA l "Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co., 413 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2005)" s "Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co. (9th Cir. 2005)" c 1  (emphasizing that the degree of proof for establishing a prima facie case for an ADEA claim on summary judgment is minimal and need not even rise to preponderance of the evidence). 

In the Coghlan case, the Court rejected the employer’s argument that the plaintiff did not make out a prima facie case of discrimination because the employee was not performing at a level consistent with the employer’s expectations.  Id. at 1094 TA s "Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co. (9th Cir. 2005)" .  The plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that he was competent to handle the duties of the job to establish a prima facie case.  Id. TA s "Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co. (9th Cir. 2005)"