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Pennsylvania court reviews judge's age discrimination case

Two age discrimination lawsuits are pending in Pennsylvania regarding the mandatory retirement age of 70 years old for judges who serve in the state. One of the suits has been filed in federal court in Pittsburgh and the other is pending in the state commonwealth court.

This case, like others dealing with discriminatory laws, is a matter of whether the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The case goes to the heart of state imposed discrimination, applying a rational basis analysis to determine whether the state has a legitimate purpose and a narrowly tailored solution to justify the possible age discrimination. The 1991 Supreme Court case said that mandatory retirement ages for state court judges are acceptable since the law opens up judicial positions for those who have not had an opportunity to serve yet, and because it takes the guessing game out of determining whether older judges are still fit to serve.

The law in this case, according to state attorneys, is less restrictive than the one that was considered constitutional in the 1991 Supreme Court case because it allows older judges to continue to serve on a part-time basis. This is good for the court system because it increases the number of judges available to hear cases, which generally improves the process for those utilizing the court system.

What do you think - is this law beneficial for the state? Or is an age limit for judges the wrong way to deal with this issue?

Source: Trib Live, "Pennsylvania argues precedent set in judges age-discrimination lawsuit," Liz Zemba, March 7, 2013.

Information about age discrimination in Pennsylvania is available on our employee rights page.

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