General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 25 (2004)

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Cite as: 540 U. S. 581 (2004)

Thomas, J., dissenting

631(a). At first glance, this might look odd when paired with the conclusion that 623(a)(1) bars discrimination against the relatively young as well as the relatively old, but there is a perfectly rational explanation. Congress could easily conclude that age discrimination directed against those under 40 is not as damaging, since a young worker unjustly fired is likely to find a new job or otherwise recover from the discrimination. A person over 40 fired due to irrational age discrimination (whether because the worker is too young or too old) might have a more difficult time recovering from the discharge and finding new employment. Such an interpretation also comports with the many findings of the Wirtz report, United States Dept. of Labor, The Older American Worker: Age Discrimination in Employment (June 1965), and the parallel findings in the ADEA itself. See, e. g., 29 U. S. C. 621(a)(1) (finding that "older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment when displaced from jobs"); 621(a)(3) (finding that "the incidence of unemployment, especially long-term unemployment with resultant deterioration of skill, morale, and employer acceptability is, relative to the younger ages, high among older workers").

This plain reading of the ADEA is bolstered by the interpretation of the agency charged with administering the statute. A regulation issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) adopts the view contrary to the Court's, 29 CFR 1625.2(a) (2003), and the only binding EEOC decision that addresses the question before us also adopted the view contrary to the Court's, see Garrett v. Runyon, Appeal No. 01960422, 1997 WL 574739, *1 (EEOC, Sept. 5, 1997). I agree with the Court that we need not address whether deference under Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), would apply to the EEOC's regulation in this case. See ante, at 600. Of course, I so conclude because the EEOC's interpretation is consistent with the best reading


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