March 7, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Jane Margesson, AARP Maine Communications Director
(207) 229-5628 firstname.lastname@example.org
Age Discrimination Case in Maine Important Victory for Older Workers
AARP Foundation Litigation Filed Amicus Brief
AUGUSTA: Today, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court reached an important decision in Scamman v. Shaw’s Supermarkets when it was determined that Maine State law forbidding age discrimination in the workplace applies the same strict legal standards on employers as in race and sex bias cases. AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) filed a friend of the court or Amicus brief for AARP on the side of older workers challenging their terminations.
Lorraine Scamman, along with other plaintiffs in the case, worked at Shaw’s Supermarkets until Shaw’s terminated her full-time employment in 2012 as part of a reduction in the company’s workforce. In fact, Shaw’s decided to discharge only full-time employees. Because full-time employees were, on average, older than their part-time counterparts, the layoffs affected more older workers than younger employees.
In the Scamman case, the court said that employers trying to justify neutral policies or practices that have a significant adverse “disparate impact” on older workers must show that they adopted such a challenged policy or practice out of “business necessity.” Part of that test is a requirement that an employer look for alternative, equally effective means to accomplish the same goals as the challenged practices, but which have a lesser adverse impact on older workers.
Shaw’s Supermarkets argued that standards in federal law more favorable to employers — under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) — also should apply under Maine law. Shaw’s contended that an employer only should have to show that an age-neutral practice hurting the job opportunities of older workers is “reasonable” and not that it is justified by “business necessity.” Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court rejected that claim because the ADEA language that creates a “reasonable factor other than age” defense does not appear in Maine human rights law.
“The Court fully agreed with AARP, the older workers who brought the case, and the Maine Human Rights Commission which also weighed in on the older workers’ side,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “This decision preserves a key tool for older workers in Maine who are disadvantaged at work, but cannot show ‘smoking gun evidence’ of their employer’s intent to fire them based on ageism.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.