In a pair of employee-friendly decisions issued on the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court held that? ?private?? employees? ?can? ?bring?? retaliation claims under section 1981 and that federal employees can bring retaliation claims for complaining about ADEA violations.? ?Justice Breyer authored the decision for a seven-member?majority in the section 1981 case and Justice Alito authored the decision for a six-member majority in the federal ADEA case.?? Both majority opinions relied on the cases of Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229 (1969), and Jackson v. Birmingham? Bd.? of? Ed.,? 544? U.S.? 167? (2005), which held that retaliation claims were available under? Section? 1982? and? Title? IX,? respectively, even though neither statute explicitly prohibited retaliation.?? ?The? Bush? Administration ?supported the employee in the Section 1981 case and the government in the ADEA case.?? Justice Roberts joined the majority in the Section 1981 case but the dissent in the federal ADEA case. ?Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented in both cases.?? Apart from their holdings, the decisions are quite important for their rejection of the ?plain meaning approach? when it comes to civil rights statutes.? ?Justice Alito?s opinion has a useful discussion about the difference between the question whether a statute confers a private right of action and the question whether the statute prohibits a particular form of conduct. ?CBOCS West Inc. v. Humphries, No. 06-?1431 (5/27/08) and Gomez-Perez v. Potter, Postmaster General, No. 06-1321 (5/27/08).
Supreme Court Holds that Retaliation Claims Available Under Section 1981 and to Federal Employees Bringing ADEA Claims
May 27, 2008