Home > Journals > LAWREVIEW > Vol. 87 > No. 1 (2013)
A Gross Injustice: Proving Age Discrimination by Federal Employers Under the ADEA in the Wake of Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.
This Note argues that the “but-for” causation required under Gross should not be extended to apply to ADEA claims brought against federal employers because the reasoning of Gross does not support a broad expansion of its holding, and because a less stringent burden of proof is more appropriate in the federal employment context. Part I explains the current requirements placed on a plaintiff bringing a § 623 ADEA claim against a nonfederal employer, as laid out by the Supreme Court in Gross. Part II explores the applicability of Gross to § 633a of the ADEA, which applies to federal employers, and compares the reasoning of those courts that have chosen to apply Gross in the federal employment context with that of those courts that have refrained from doing so. Finally, Part III proposes that Gross should not be expanded to require “but-for” causation in claims brought against federal employers under § 633a of the ADEA for a number of statutory interpretation and policy reasons, and instead recommends a “substantial factor” causation test in which age must be material to an adverse employment action, but need not be the “but-for” cause.