What is a Government Employer Anyway? The Ninth Circuit Splits with Decades of Precedent and Holds that the ADEA’s 20-Employee Requirement Does Not Apply to Public Employers

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their age.  But applying the ADEA’s definition of “employer” is not as simple as it sounds.  Recently complicating that definition is disagreement among the circuit courts regarding the meaning of the ADEA’s language.  In June 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals diverged from other circuits and held in Guido v. Mount Lemmon Fire Dist., 859 F.3d 1168 (9th Cir. 2017), that the 20-employee requirement for an entity to satisfy the definition of an employer under the ADEA does not apply to public employers. John Guido and Dennis Rankin were employed at the Mount Lemmon Fire District, a political subdivision of Arizona, as full-time firefighter Captains.  Mr. Guido and Mr. Rankin brought suit alleging age discrimination after they were terminated.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Mount…

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