Employees who believe that they’ve been victims of age discrimination received a huge benefit from a late 2015 decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, involving a North Georgia worker who sued his prospective employer for violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The judges who heard the man’s appeal issued a groundbreaking ruling, stating, for the first time in the 11th Circuit, that employment candidates alleging age discrimination can use disparate impact to prove that an employer discriminated against them. That new tool is again being called into question, however, since the 11th Circuit has agreed to review the case again, this time by all of the judges of the Circuit.
In most federal appeals, the case is heard on appeal by a “panel” of three appellate judges. For the losing side, the law allows an option to request that the case be reheard, and decided, by all of the judges for that appeals court. This is called a rehearing en banc. That’s what R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. sought and obtained in a recent age discrimination case in the 11th Circuit.