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The Requirements of Establishing Prima Facie Age Discrimination

On May 29th, 2012, in Schechner v. KPIX-TV, (United States Court of Appeals—Ninth Circuit, No. 11-15294), the court found that in order for a prima facie age discrimination case to be established, a plaintiff must present enough evidence suggesting discrimination to overcome an employer's non-discriminatory basis for its decision to lay off an employee or employees.

In Schechner, the evidence offered by the plaintiffs to demonstrate age discrimination was a statistical report showing that the employees who were not laid off were significantly younger than the employees who were laid off. However, KPIX adequately showed that the plaintiffs were laid off in relation to its financial need to shrink its budget, and that the layoffs were based on expiration dates of employees' contracts, which likely accounted for the age disparity.

The court concluded that the plaintiffs in this case met the first three requirements for prima facie age discrimination cases by demonstrating that they were over the age of 40, their job performance was satisfactory, and that they were laid off. However, the plaintiffs would have had to additionally show either that equally or less qualified younger employees replaced them in their jobs, or that the circumstances begat a presumption of discrimination. Because the plaintiffs were unable to meet this final requirement for a prima facie age discrimination case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for KPIX.

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