The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard argument in the first of the term’s closely watched employment cases, concerning what constitutes a charge of discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received a drubbing from several members of the Court for its inconsistencies in processing such claims. And in another case, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. got a reminder of his past life as a high court advocate.

On Dec. 3, 2001, Federal Express courier Patricia Kennedy filed an intake questionnaire and affidavit with the EEOC alleging age discrimination in violation of the ADEA. Kennedy and a number of otherFedEx employees filed a class action suit on April 30, 2002. Kennedy subsequently filed a formal charge with the EEOC on May 30, 2002. The case is Federal Express Corporation v. Holowecki, et al.