The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is often referred to as the most influential federal court after the U.S. Supreme Court, has reversed and remanded a lower court’s summary judgment dismissal of a 47-year old professor’s claim that his employer unlawfully terminated him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The decision by the appeals court in Steele v. Mattis, No. 16-5236 (D.C. Cir. August 10, 2018), found that there was disputed evidence that had to be resolved by a jury on the question of whether the professor was fired for legitimate reasons. The problematic evidence included insufficient and inconsistent explanations by his employer for the professor’s discharge, as well as allegations that one of the professor’s direct supervisors made numerous discriminatory remarks about older workers.

The ruling serves as a reminder that when making an employment decision that impacts a worker that is age 40 and older, an employer should ensure that there are legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for taking an adverse action, and that these factors are well-documented and clearly set forth from the outset.

A copy of the D.C. Circuit’s opinion in Steele v. Mattis is available online.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.