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Smith v. City of Jackson

United States Supreme Court
544 U.S. 228 (2005)


Facts

In 1999, the City of Jackson, Mississippi (City) adopted a new pay plan giving raises to all city employees. The City did so to attract and retain qualified employees, offer competitive wages, and bring salaries up to levels comparable to those paid by other regional public agencies. Under the pay plan, police officers and police dispatchers with less than five years of employment received proportionately higher raises than did their more senior counterparts. The City apportioned police department raises based on an employee’s status in one of five basic positions and calculated the amounts based in part on comparable positions throughout the Southeast. All police department employees received a raise of at least 2 percent. Higher ranking police officers received raises that represented a smaller percentage of their existing salaries, but were higher in dollar amount, because their overall salaries were higher than those of more junior police department employees. Age did not affect raise determinations. The highest ranking officials tended to be over the age of 40. A number of police and public safety officers over 40 (plaintiffs) sued the City under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34, alleging they unlawfully received lower raises than younger officers. The court of appeals held that the ADEA does not authorize disparate-impact claims. The plaintiffs petitioned for review by the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

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Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

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