October 16, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Punts On Public Sector Age Discrimination Case

On October 15, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ of certiorari it granted in Madigan v. Levin as improvidently granted.  We had mixed feelings about the case, as it had the potential to limit the relief available under Section 1983 and the U.S. Constitution for state and local government employees complaining of age discrimination or to open the floodgates to a litany of new claims.

But, two jurisdictional issues sunk the case.  First, Illinois Solicitor General Michael A. Scodro argued that the Seventh Circuit did not have appellate jurisdiction to decide an interlocutory appeal (an appeal that is taken before the merits of the case are decided) on the issue of qualified immunity.  Second, Plaintiff Harvey N. Levin argued the case was not properly before the high court because a lower court found that Levin was not covered by the ADEA.

Although the justices noted that they do not like to dismiss cases, it appears they felt they had no other option.  The Supreme Court’s decision is not a decision on the merits; it just defers a decision on this issue until a later date.