Supreme Court won’t overturn $1.3M age discrimination verdict


The United States Supreme Court declined to overturn a $1.3 million jury verdict in an age discrimination case from the federal district court in Massachusetts (Rinsky v. Cushman & Wakefield, Case No. 1:16-cv-10403-ADB (D. Mass.)).

Rinsky verdict form

The employer in the case, Cushman & Wakefield, petitioned the Supreme Court to take the case by arguing that the lower court had made several errors, including:

  • the local law claim under the New York City Human Rights Law should not have applied in this case; and
  • the award of punitive damages should be governed by a higher legal burden of clear and convincing evidence rather than a preponderance of evidence

Ultimately, the Supreme Court decided not to review the case, which means that the $1.3 million verdict stands.  The Supreme Court petition is available below:

Cushman Wakefield SCT petition

Legal framework for age discrimination/ADEA claims

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and related state laws prohibit discrimination against older employees. To prove an initial (prima facie) case of intentional age discrimination in a selection decision, the employee must show:

  • that they belong to a protected class
  • that they applied for and were qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants
  • that despite their qualifications they were rejected
  • that the position remained open after their rejection and the employer continued to seek applicants similar to their qualifications.

A defendant must then show a legitimate reason for the taking the employment action. In response, a plaintiff can show by preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not its true reason, but were a pretext for discrimination.

Approximately 1 in 5 discrimination charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are age discrimination claims, and in 2017 the EEOC received over 18,000 age discrimination charges.

For more information, please see the information below from the experienced age discrimination lawyers at Bachman Law.

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