On April 6 of this year, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Babb v. Wilkie, 140 S. Ct. 1168 (2020), clarifying that the standard of causation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is much more favorable to federal sector plaintiffs than the private sector’s “but-for” causation standard. In an 8-1 opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Court held that the plain language of the statute “demands that personnel actions be untainted by any consideration of age.” Id. at 1171. This holding is based on the language of 29 U.S.C. § 633a(a), which provides that in the federal government, with limited exceptions, “All personnel actions affecting employees or applicants for employment who are at least 40 years of age… shall be made free from any discrimination based on age.”
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