[ Scalia ]
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
O'CONNOR v. CONSOLIDATED
COIN CATERERS CORP.
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fourth circuit
At age 56, petitioner was fired by respondent corporation and replaced by a 40 year old worker. He then filed this suit, alleging that his discharge violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The District Court granted respondent's summary judgment motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that petitioner failed to make out a prima facie case of age discrimination under McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, because he failed to show that he was replaced by someone outside the age group protected by the ADEA.
Held: Assuming that Title VII's McDonnell Douglas framework is applicable to ADEA cases, there must be at least a logical connection between each element of the prima facie case and the illegal discrimination. Replacement by someone under 40 fails this requirement. Although the ADEA limits its protection to those who are 40 or older, it prohibits discrimination against those protected employees on the basis of age, not class membership. That one member of the protected class lost out to another member is irrelevant, so long as he lost out because of his age. The latter is more reliably indicated by the fact that his replacement was substantially younger than by the fact that his replacement was not a member of the protected class.
Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.