Washington DC- Today U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), which would overturn a Supreme Court decision that created a high bar for workers seeking to bring workplace age discrimination claims. The bill essentially reverses Gross v. FBL Financial and amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and other major civil rights laws to specify that workers only must prove that discrimination is a motivating factor, rather than the decisive factor, in an adverse employment decision.
“This legislation fights to protect vulnerable workers for whom proving discrimination is already difficult,” Senator Casey said. “I am confident we can move this bill through Congress and continue to defend and meet the needs of older Americans not only in Pennsylvania, but across the entire country.”
“All Americans should be free from discrimination of any kind, whether it be based on age, religion, race, sex or origin. Those suffering from abuse at the workplace shouldn’t feel burdened by the law that is supposed to be helping them. I look forward to working with my colleague Senator Casey to pass this bill so all American workers are protected from age discrimination,” said Senator Kirk.
POWADA would help to restore legal protections for vulnerable workers to what they were before the Gross decision. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly approved “mixed motive” claims in which plaintiffs need only prove discrimination is a motivating, even if not the determinative, factor in an adverse employment decision. Nonetheless, in Gross, the Supreme Court held that plaintiffs had to prove age was the deciding, or “but for”, factor in such a decision. POWADA would reinstate the “mixed motive” burden of proof and apply it to discrimination and retaliation claims brought under other major federal laws.
The attached PDF outlines how this legislation will have a direct impact on Pennsylvanians, including reestablishing a level playing field for older workers in the Pennsylvania courts.
# # #