State and local government employers, especially those with less than 20 employees, should take note of the following decision by the Supreme Court. On November 6, 2018, in the case of Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, the Supreme Court unanimously held that state and local government employers, regardless of size, must comply with the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).

Prior to this decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, that governs Minnesota, was one of four federal circuit courts that held the ADEA did not apply to state entities (including political subdivisions) with fewer than twenty employees. In overturning that interpretation, the Supreme Court found that “the text of the ADEA’s definitional provision, also its kinship to the FLSA and differences from Title VII, leave scant room for doubt that state and local governments are ’employer[s]’ covered by the ADEA regardless of their size.”

As a result, this decision, as it applies to state and local government employers, places the ADEA on equal footing with the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits age discrimination in employment for employers with one or more employees.

State and local government employers with more specific questions or concerns regarding the applicability of state and federal employment laws to their workforce are encouraged to contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Quinlivan & Hughes for advice and guidance.