Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment Standard in an ADEA Suit

Issue: What is the Standard for Granting Summary Judgment in a Suit Brought Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Employment discrimination; Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 786 F.2d 1507; 530 U.S. 133; 197 F.3d 1322; 833 F.2d 1525; 837 F.2d 1550; 125 F.3d 1406; 411 U.S. 792
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2008

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has long made clear that “‘[t]he purpose of the ADEA . . . is to make the plaintiff “whole,” to restore the plaintiff to the economic position the plaintiff would have occupied but for the illegal discrimination of the employer.'”  Muñoz v. Oceanside Resorts, Inc., 223 F.3d 1340, 1350 (11th Cir. 2000) (quoting Castle v. Sangamo Weston, Inc., 837 F.2d 1550, 1561 (11th Cir. 1988)).  “In an employment discrimination case, ‘the plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence to support an inference that the defendant employer based its employment decision on an illegal criterion.'”  Williams v. Vitro Servs. Corp., 144 F.3d 1438, 1441 (11th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).  The Supreme Court has ruled “that ‘a plaintiff’s prima facie case, combined with sufficient evidence to find that the employer’s asserted justification is false, may permit the trier of fact to conclude that the employer unlawfully discriminated.'”  Muñoz, 223 F.3d at 1346 (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000)).

“The Eleventh Circuit has adapted to issues of age discrimination the principles of law applicable to cases arising under the very similar provisions of Title VII.”  Hairston, 9 F.3d at 919.  Although the test applicable to Title VII—the so-called “McDonnell Douglas test” based on McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)—applies in ADEA cases, in the Eleventh Circuit the courts use a slightly modified version of the elements of the prima […]

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