Does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act provide the sole vehicle for age discrimination claims under federal law or are the claims covered under the Equal Protection Clause via 42 U.S.C. § 1983?
Respondent Harvey N. Levin was an Assistant Attorney General (“AAG”) for the state of Illinois until his employment was terminated in May 2006. Levin sued Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other state Petitioners under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Equal Protection Clause via 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Madigan argues the ADEA precludes Levin’s § 1983 claim. Levin contends the ADEA does not preclude a § 1983 claim for age discrimination and even if the ADEA does preclude such a claim, the ADEA does not apply to him because he is not an “employee” for ADEA purposes. In contrast with four other circuit decisions, the Seventh Circuit held that the ADEA does not preempt § 1983 claims. If the lower court’s ruling stands, Levin will be able to pursue his age discrimination claim in court. The Supreme Court can decide what avenues government workers have to pursue age discrimination claims. The decision will also impact the volume of cases that states, and other levels of government, will need to defend.
Whether the Seventh Circuit erred in holding, in an acknowledged departure from the rule in at least four other circuits, that state and local government employees may avoid the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act's comprehensive remedial regime by bringing age discrimination claims directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In 2000, at the age of 55, Levin began working as an AAG for the state of Illinois. See Levin v. Madigan, 692 F.3d 607, 609 (7th Cir. 2012). After six years and a promotion to Senior AAG, Madigan’s office terminated Levin’s employment.
- Sheldon H. Nahmod, Certiorari Granted in Madigan v. Levin: An Important Section 1983/ADEA Preclusion Case, Nahmod Law, Apr. 17, 2013.
- Donald Scarinci, Supreme Court to Take on Age Discrimination: Madigan v. Levin, Constitutional Law Reporter, Mar. 28, 2013.