The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on March 18, 2013 in Madigan v. Levin, a case that considers whether state and local government employees can bring cases of age discrimination directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Generally, a person who has been subjected to age discrimination would bring an age discrimination case in federal court under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).
In the district court, the defendants in the case argued that the ADEA is the exclusive federal remedy for age discrimination claims. Therefore, They argued, Levin couldn’t bring his age discrimination claim under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Both the district court and the 7th Circuit disagreed. This is important because all of the other circuit courts that have considered this issue have decided differently from the 7th Circuit. Instead, those courts have decided that the ADEA is the exclusive federal remedy for age discrimination claims.
This case is made more important due to a case decided in 2000 called Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents. In that case, the Court held that the Eleventh Amendment barred state employees’ claims for damages under the ADEA. The Kimel decision effectively leaves state employees with no federal remedy for age discrimination claims unless the Supreme Court decides that state employees may bring a § 1983 equal protection claim for age discrimination.