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In response to two Supreme Court decisions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a final rule amending its current Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) regulations. According to the EEOC, the rule does two things:

  1. It makes the existing regulations consistent with the Supreme Court’s holding that the defense to an ADEA disparate impact claim is “reasonable factor other than age” (RFOA), and not business necessity
  2. It explains the meaning of the RFOA defense to employees, employers and those who enforce and implement the ADEA. The new rule becomes effective on April 30. 

The two Supreme Court cases that prompted the new rule are Smith v. City of Jackson, 544 U.S. 228 (2005) and Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, 554 U.S. 84 (2008). In Smith, the court held that individuals can pursue disparate impact claims under the ADEA. This decision confirmed the EEOC’s “longstanding position that the ADEA prohibits policies and practices that have the effect of harming older individuals more than younger individuals, even if the harm was not intentional.” 

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