460 U.S. 226 (1983), 81-554, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wyoming

Docket Nº:No. 81-554
Citation:460 U.S. 226, 103 S.Ct. 1054, 75 L.Ed.2d 18
Party Name:Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wyoming
Case Date:March 02, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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460 U.S. 226 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 1054, 75 L.Ed.2d 18

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

v.

Wyoming

No. 81-554

United States Supreme Court

March 2, 1983

Argued October 5, 1982

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR

THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING

Syllabus

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any employee or potential employee between the ages of 40 and 70 on the basis of age, except

where age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business. or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age.

In 1974, the definition of "employer" under § 11(b) of the Act was extended to include state and local governments. After a supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was involuntarily retired at age 55 pursuant to a Wyoming statute, he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging violation of the Act. The Commission ultimately filed suit in Federal District Court against appellees, the State and various state officials, seeking relief on behalf of the supervisor and others similarly situated. The District Court dismissed the suit, holding that, insofar as the Act regulated Wyoming's employment relationship with its game wardens and other law enforcement officials, it violated the doctrine of Tenth Amendment immunity articulated in National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, which struck down Congress' attempt to extend the wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act to state and local governments.

Held: The extension of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to cover state and local governments is a valid exercise of Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause, both on its face and as applied in this case, and is not precluded by virtue of external constraints imposed on Congress' commerce powers by the Tenth Amendment. Pp. 235-244.

(a) The purpose of the doctrine of Tenth Amendment immunity articulated in National League of Cities, supra, is to protect States from federal intrusions that might threaten their "separate and independent existence." A claim that congressional commerce power legislation is invalid can succeed only if (1) the challenged statute regulates the States as States, (2) the federal regulation addresses matters that are indisputably attributes of state sovereignty, and (3) the States' compliance with the federal law would "directly impair their ability `to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions.'" Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining Reclamation Assn., 452 U.S. 264, 287-288.

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The first requirement is met in this case, but even assuming, arguendo, that the second requirement is met, the Act does not "directly impair" the State's ability to "structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions." Pp. 236-239.

(b) In this case, the degree of federal intrusion on the States' ability to structure their integral operations is not sufficient to override Congress' choice to extend its regulatory authority to the States. Appellees claim no substantial stake in their retirement policy other than assuring the physical preparedness of Wyoming game wardens to perform their duties. The Act does not require the State to abandon those goals, or the public policy decisions underlying them. Under the Act, the State may assess the fitness of its game wardens on an individualized basis, and may dismiss those wardens whom it reasonably finds to be unfit. Moreover, appellees remain free under the Act to continue to do precisely what they are doing now, if they can demonstrate that age is a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the job of game warden. And nothing in the nature of the Act suggests that it will have substantial and unintended consequential effects on state decisionmaking in other areas, such as the allocation of state financial resources or the pursuit of broad social and economic policies. National League of Cities, supra, distinguished. Pp. 239-242.

514 F.Supp. 595, reversed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 244. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined, post, p. 251. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 265.

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BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 81 Stat. 602, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. V) (ADEA or Act), it is unlawful for an employer

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to discriminate against any employee or potential employee on the basis of age, except

where age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business, or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age.1

The question presented in this case is whether Congress acted constitutionally when, in 1974, it extended the definition of "employer" under § 11(b) of the Act to include state and local governments. The United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, in an enforcement action brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission), held that, at least as applied to certain classes of state workers, the extension was [103 S.Ct. 1057] unconstitutional. 514 F.Supp. 595 (1981). The Commission filed a direct appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1252, and we noted probable jurisdiction. 454 U.S. 1140 (1982). We now reverse.

I

Efforts in Congress to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination date back at least to the 1950's.2 During floor debate over what was to become Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, amendments were offered in both the House and the Senate to ban discrimination on the basis of age as well as race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. These amendments were opposed at least in part on the basis that Congress did not yet have enough information to make a considered judgment about the nature of age discrimination, and each was ultimately defeated. 110 Cong.Rec. 2596-2599, 9911-9913, 13490-13492 (1964); EEOC, Legislative History of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 5-14 (1981) (hereinafter Legislative History). Title VII did, however,

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include a provision, § 715, 78 Stat. 265 (since superseded by § 10 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 86 Stat. 111), which directed the Secretary of Labor to

make a full and complete study of the factors which might tend to result in discrimination in employment because of age and of the consequences of such discrimination on the economy and individuals affected,

and to report the results of that study to Congress. That report was transmitted approximately one year later. Report of the Secretary of Labor, The Older American Worker: Age Discrimination in Employment (1965), Legislative History 16-41.

In 1966, Congress directed the Secretary of Labor to submit specific legislative proposals for prohibiting age discrimination. Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1966, § 606, 80 Stat. 845. The Secretary transmitted a draft bill in early 1967, see 113 Cong.Rec. 1377 (1967), and the President, in a message to Congress on older Americans, recommended its enactment and expressed serious concern about the problem of age discrimination, see Special Message to the Congress Proposing Programs for Older Americans, 1 Public Papers of the Presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967, pp. 32, 37 (1968). Congress undertook further study of its own, and Committees in both the House and the Senate conducted detailed hearings on the proposed legislation. See Age Discrimination in Employment: Hearings on S. 830 and S. 788 before the Subcommittee on Labor of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. (1967); Age Discrimination in Employment: Hearings on H.R. 3651 et al. before the General Subcommittee on Labor of the House Committee on Education and Labor, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. (1967); see also Retirement and the Individual: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Retirement and the Individual of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. (1967).

The report of the Secretary of Labor, whose findings were confirmed throughout the extensive factfinding undertaken

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by the Executive Branch and Congress, came to the following basic conclusions: (1) Many employers adopted specific age limitations in those States that had not prohibited them by their own antidiscrimination laws, although many other employers were able to operate successfully without them. (2) In the aggregate, these age limitations had a marked effect upon the employment of older workers. (3) Although age discrimination rarely was based on the sort of animus motivating some other forms of discrimination, it was based in large part on stereotypes unsupported by objective fact, and was often defended on grounds different from its actual causes. (4) Moreover, the available empirical evidence demonstrated that arbitrary age lines were in fact generally unfounded, and that, as an [103 S.Ct. 1058] overall matter, the performance of older workers was at least as good as that of younger workers. (5) Finally, arbitrary age discrimination was profoundly harmful in at least two ways. First, it deprived the national economy of the productive labor of millions of individuals, and imposed on the governmental treasury substantially increased costs in unemployment insurance and federal Social Security benefits. Second, it inflicted on...

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