General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 10 (2004)

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Opinion of the Court

to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment." Id., 2(b).

In sum, except on one point, all the findings and statements of objectives are either cast in terms of the effects of age as intensifying over time, or are couched in terms that refer to "older" workers, explicitly or implicitly relative to "younger" ones. The single subject on which the statute speaks less specifically is that of "arbitrary limits" or "arbitrary age discrimination." But these are unmistakable references to the Wirtz Report's finding that "[a]lmost three out of every five employers covered by [a] 1965 survey have in effect age limitations (most frequently between 45 and 55) on new hires which they apply without consideration of an applicant's other qualifications." Wirtz Report 6. The ADEA's ban on "arbitrary limits" thus applies to age caps that exclude older applicants, necessarily to the advantage of younger ones.

Such is the setting of the ADEA's core substantive provision, 4 (as amended, 29 U. S. C. 623), prohibiting employers and certain others from "discriminat[ion] . . . because of [an] individual's age," whenever (as originally enacted) the individual is "at least forty years of age but less than sixty-five years of age," 12, 81 Stat. 607.4 The prefatory provisions and their legislative history make a case that we think is beyond reasonable doubt, that the ADEA was concerned

4 In 1978, Congress changed the upper age limit to 70 years, Pub. L. 95-256, 3(a), 92 Stat. 189, and then struck it entirely in 1986, Pub. L. 99-592, 2(c)(1), 100 Stat. 3342. The President transferred authority over the ADEA from the Department of Labor to the EEOC in 1978. Reorg. Plan No. 1 of 1978, 5 U. S. C. App. 2, p. 206. Congress has also made other changes, including extending the ADEA to government employees (state, local, and federal), Pub. L. 93-259, 88 Stat. 74-75 (amending 29 U. S. C. 630(b) and adding 633a), and clarifying that it extends, with certain exceptions, to employee benefits, Pub. L. 101-433, 104 Stat. 978 (amending among other provisions 29 U. S. C. 630(l)).

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