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March 30, 2004
High Court to Decide ADEA's Reach

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case testing whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act allows workers to file lawsuits alleging an employer's policy, while neutral on its face, has a disproportionate impact on older workers, the Associated Press reports.

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The case involves 30 police officers and dispatchers who allege the city of Jackson, Mississippi's pay policy gave larger increases to younger workers. The appeal to the Supreme Court came after the officers lost in a lower court.

The officers' attorneys have argued that because the age-discrimination law has similar language and purpose to the Civil Right Act of 1964--which the court has said allows workers to file disparate-impact claims--the ADEA should allow such claims as well.

Courts have been divided over whether the age-discrimination law allows for disparate-impact claims. The news service notes that in 2001, the Supreme Court was scheduled to decide the issue in another case, but eventually backed out.

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