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According to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in order to support a claim for age discrimination, there must be a “significant” age difference between the terminated employee and his or her replacement.  In Blizzard v. Marion Technical College, the plaintiff, Peggy Blizzard, worked as an accounts payable clerk at Marion Technical College (MTC). In 2008, MTC terminated Peggy, when she was 57 years old. Peggy sued MTC, alleging that MTC’s termination of her was based on age discrimination.

The Sixth Circuit Court found for MTC, holding that there wasn’t a large enough age gap between Peggy and her replacement to support her age discrimination claim. To state a claim for age discrimination, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) membership in a protected group; (2) qualification for the job in question; (3) an adverse employment action; and (4) circumstances that support an inference of discrimination.

In Blizzard, the Peggy offered evidence that she was replaced by a younger employee to satisfy the fourth element.  While the court found that Peggy had satisfied the first three elements, it held that she failed to satisfy the fourth element because there was not a significant enough age gap between Peggy and her replacement. Her replacement was six and-a-half years younger than Peggy.

The Sixth Circuit generally uses an “age zone analysis” to evaluate replacement age difference discrimination. Under this analysis, the Sixth Circuit says that an age difference of six years or less between an employee and a replacement is not significant. An age difference between six to ten years must be considered on a case-by-case basis. And an age difference of ten years or more is considered significant.

If you believe that you have been terminated or discriminated against because of your age, contact the attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential consultation.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.


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