by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

On June 29, 2010, the EEOC announced that the State of Georgia agreed to pay 60K to settle an ADEA claim. The recipient is Margie Washington, who was terminated from her position of office manager after 25 years of service. The reason for noting this settlement is that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the ADEA does not apply to state agencies in Kimel v. Board of Regents (2000) [528 US 62]. A similar ruling was rendered by the Supreme Court a year later in Bd. of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett (2001) [531 U.S. 356] with respect to the ADA. As a result individual plaintiffs such as Margie Washington have no private right to sue state agencies under the ADEA, and the same is true for ADA plaintiffs.

However, as decided by the Supreme Court in EEOC v. Waffle House (2002) [534 US 279], the EEOC has the independent right to sue state agencies for remedies on behalf of individual plaintiffs. The Waffle House ruling involved binding arbitration in the context of the ADA. Waffle House was then generalized to ADEA claims against state agencies by the 7th Circuit in EEOC v. Bd. of Regents of the University of Wisconsin (2002) [288 F.3d 296]). The settlement in favor of Margie Washington indicates that the EEOC will continue to pursue both ADEA and ADA claims on behalf of individual plaintiffs who, otherwise, do not have a private right to sue.

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