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O'Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp.

517 U.S. 308 (1996)

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O'Connor v. Consolidated Coin Caterers Corp.

United States Supreme Court

517 U.S. 308 (1996)

Facts

James O’Connor (plaintiff) worked for Consolidated Coin Caterers Corporation (Consolidated Coin) (defendant). When O’Connor was 56 years old, Consolidated Coin fired O’Connor and replaced him with a 40-year-old worker. O’Connor sued Consolidated Coin in federal district court, alleging that he had been terminated in violation of the protections in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) for employees aged 40 and over. The district court granted Consolidated Coin’s motion for summary judgment, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed. The Fourth Circuit stated that to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADEA, O’Connor needed to show that (1) he was in the statutorily protected age group; (2) he was discharged or demoted; (3) prior to the discharge, his job performance met his employer’s legitimate expectations; and (4) he was replaced by someone of comparable qualifications who was outside the statutorily protected age group. The Fourth Circuit held that O’Connor had failed to establish his prima facie case because his 40-year-old replacement was within the statutorily protected age group. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

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