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Judge Shoots Down Nonsensical Class-Action ADEA Lawsuit Against Amazon With an Assist From The Goat, Tom Brady

Some lawsuits are so outlandish they make headlines … for all the wrong reasons. One such silly case was brought as a class action against Amazon by employees in California. The plaintiffs, all 40 and older, alleged Amazon violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by imposing productivity quotas on all employees. The complaint claimed Amazon’s quotas “disparately impacted” older workers based on an assumption that they could not keep up production with their younger peers. The court was not buying it. The judge observed that if football great Tom Brady – who turns 45 in August and still plays in the NFL – worked at Amazon his age would not keep him from meeting the quotas. In doing so the court refused to accept the premise of the lawsuit, that older employees cannot be as productive as their younger peers purely due to their age.

The ADEA protects older workers from discrimination based on the very stereotyping that formed the basis of this ill-conceived lawsuit. Some courts have struggled with the inherent conflict between the ADEA and the reality that most people do eventually diminish in physical and sometimes mental capability as they age. But per the ADEA employers are not supposed to consider older employees as a class assumed to be incapable of working just as any other employee. Yet that is precisely what these plaintiffs did in their lawsuit when they assumed employees 40 and older could not be as productive as their younger counterparts. Good thing for the plaintiffs they are employees and not employers, or they might be sued for violating the ADEA.

Class action lawsuits are not always pursued based on their merit, but by plaintiffs and lawyers looking for a quick settlement. Defendants may be inclined to pay a settlement to avoid the potentially substantial costs of defending against these cases in court. In this case, it is refreshing to see a defendant call out a silly class action lawsuit, and a federal judge that injected some common sense into his decision by displaying a keen understanding of the ADEA, some knowledge of the NFL, and a good sense of humor!


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