Supreme Court Finds Small State Entities and Political Subdivisions Covered by ADEA


The Age Discrimination in Employment Act’s 20-employee trigger for coverage does not apply to state entities or political subdivisions, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, resolving a federal appellate circuit split on the issue.

Under ADEA, “employer” is defined as “a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has twenty or more employees…. The term also means (1) any agent of such a person, and (2) a State or political subdivision of a State.” In Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, a fire district that was a political subdivision argued that ADEA did not apply to it because it had fewer than twenty employees. The Supreme Court, however, found that the twenty-employee limitation did not apply to the latter part of the definition of employer, and therefore all States and political subdivisions are covered by ADEA regardless of size.