In Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC, No. 06-1037, 2008 WL 2445078 (U.S. June 19, 2008), the Supreme Court recently held that “where an employer adopts a pension plan that includes age as a factor” (in determining eligibility for retirement with pension benefits), and the employer subsequently “treats employees differently based on pension status,” the plan does not automatically violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Rather, the Court held that the plaintiff challenging such a policy must show that the differential treatment was “actually motivated” by age. In a 5-4 decision — with a rather strange alignment of the justices — the majority, which consisted of Justices Breyer (who authored the opinion), Stevens, Souter, and Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts, reversed the Sixth Circuit’s en banc ruling striking down the pension plan as facially discriminatory.
[This post serves as a follow up to my earlier posts on March 26, 2008 and January 2, 2008 regarding the decision in Erie County Retirees Association v. County of Erie by the Third Circuit upholding the EEOC’s rule allowing employers to coordinate retiree healthcare benefits with Medicare benefits, effectively resulting in equal total benefits between younger retirees and older Medicare-eligible retirees but unequal amounts spent on the two groups’ benefits because a portion of the Medicare-eligible retirees’ payments come from Medicare.]