Firemen sued the fire district alleging that they were terminated as firefighters in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The fire district said it was too small to qualify as an “employer” under the ADEA. (“Employer means a person who engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has twenty or more employees…”) The district court agreed. But reading further, the act also covers “a State or political subdivision of a State.” 29 USC 630(b).
The US Supreme Court (Bader-Ginsburg) ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, noting that “also means” in the statute included employees of political subdivisions regardless of size, giving ADEA broader reach than Title VII. The opinion noted that for 30 years the EEOC has interpreted the ADEA to cover political subdivisions regardless of size.