Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 11 (2000)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 98-791. Argued October 13, 1999—Decided January 11, 2000*

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA or Act), as amended, makes it unlawful for an employer, including a State, "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual's age." 29 U. S. C. 623(a)(1). Petitioners, three sets of plaintiffs, filed suit under the ADEA against respondents, their state employers. Petitioners' suits sought money damages for respondents' alleged discrimination on the basis of age. Respondents in all three cases moved to dismiss the suits on the basis of the Eleventh Amendment. The District Court in one case granted the motion to dismiss, while in each of the remaining cases the District Court denied the motion. All three decisions were appealed and consolidated before the Eleventh Circuit. Petitioner United States intervened on appeal to defend the constitutionality of the ADEA's abrogation of the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity. In a divided panel opinion, the Eleventh Circuit held that the ADEA does not abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity.

Held: Although the ADEA does contain a clear statement of Congress' intent to abrogate the States' immunity, that abrogation exceeded Congress' authority under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 72-92.

(a) The ADEA satisfies the simple but stringent test this Court uses to determine whether a federal statute properly subjects States to suits by individuals: Congress made its intention to abrogate the States' immunity unmistakably clear in the language of the statute. Dellmuth v. Muth, 491 U. S. 223, 228. The ADEA states that its provisions "shall be enforced in accordance with the powers, remedies, and procedures provided in sections 211(b), 216 (except for subsection (a) thereof), and 217 of this title, and subsection (c) of this section." 29 U. S. C. 626(b). Section 216(b), in turn, authorizes employees to maintain actions for backpay "against any employer (including a public agency) in any Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction . . . ." Section 203(x) defines "public agency" to include "the government of a State or political

*Together with No. 98-796, United States v. Florida Board of Regents et al., also on certiorari to the same court.

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