A clinical pharmacist who brought the term “OK, boomer” to oral arguments at the Supreme Court has scored a victory in the battle against age discrimination.
In January, a pharmacist at the Department of Veterans Affairs named Norris Babb sought a Supreme Court reversal of an earlier decision which concluded that even though Babb was discriminated against when she was fired after more than a decade of stellar performance reviews, she was required her to prove conclusively that her age was the primary reason that development opportunities vanished as she aged.
It was in pushing back against Babb’s argument that Chief Justice John Roberts, age 65, treaded into meme territory, saying:
Let’s say in the course of the, you know, weeks’ long process, you know, one comment about age, you know, the hiring person is younger, says, you know, “OK, boomer,” you know, once to the applicant…So is that actionable?
In a decision penned by Samuel Alito, the court ruled 8-1 in Babb’s favor. According to Courthouse News, the opinion read that,
“Remedies should not put a plaintiff in a more favorable position than he or she would have enjoyed absent discrimination,” the 14-page opinion concludes. “But this is precisely what would happen if individuals who cannot show that discrimination was a but-for cause of the end result of a personnel action could receive relief that alters or compensates for the end result. Although unable to obtain such relief, plaintiffs are not without a remedy if they show that age was a but-for cause of differential treatment in an employment decision but not a but-for cause of the decision itself. In that situation, plaintiffs can seek injunctive or other forward-looking relief.”
Congrats to Babb, and boomers everywhere, for this victory.