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Legal Memorandum: Age-Related Employment Discrimination

Issue: How does a plaintiff make out a case of employment discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Employment discrimination; Age related
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 729 F.2d 1229; 930 F.2d 1434; 450 U.S. 248
Cited Statutes: 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634
Date: 08/01/2005

In a Title VII employment discrimination case the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of discrimination by showing (1) he or she belongs to a protected class; (2) he or she was qualified for the position; (3) he or she was subjected to an adverse employment action; and (4) the employer treated similarly situated individuals outside the protected class more favorably.  Chuang v. Univ. of Cal. Davis, 225 F.3d 1115, 1123 (9th Cir. 2000).  Accord Bergene v. Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist., 272 F.3d 1136, 1440 (9th Cir. 2001); Godwin v. Hunt Wesson, Inc., 150 F.3d 1217, 1220 (9th Cir. 1998).

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) disparate treatment claims are analyzed under the same McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework as disparate treatment claims under Title VII.  29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634.  See Wallis v. J.R. Simplot Co., 26 F.3d 885, 888 (9th Cir. 1994); Lindahl v. Air France, 930 F.2d 1434, 1437 (9th Cir. 1991).

After the plaintiff makes out a prima facie case, creating an inference of discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer.  McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04 (1973).  The McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework applicable in an employment discrimination case is well settled.

First, plaintiff has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of racial discrimination.  Second, if plaintiff succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, the burden of producing evidence shifts to defendant “to articulate some legitimate, […]

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