Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. Wyoming 460 U.S. 226 (1983)

views updated


The EEOC sought to enforce the age discrimination in employment act (ADEA) against the state of Wyoming in a case involving the involuntary retirement of a fifty-five-year-old game warden. The Supreme Court, 5–4, upheld the ADEA as so applied. Justice william j. brennan, for the Court, found congressional power in the commerce clause, and rejected the state's claim, based on national league of cities v. usery (1976), that it was immune to this form of congressional regulation. The majority was composed of the four dissenters in Usery plus Justice harry a. blackmun.

Wyoming, Brennan said, failed the third part of the formula of Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Association (1981): the ADEA did not "directly impair" Wyoming's ability to "structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions." Wyoming could use other means to test the fitness of game wardens—or, as the ADEA allowed, justify the necessity of the age limit. The ADEA would affect state finances and state policies only marginally. Chief Justice warren e. burger, for the four dissenters, employed the same Hodel formula and concluded that the ADEA was unconstitutional as applied to a state.

This decision helped set the stage for Usery's overruling in garcia v. san antonio metropolitan transit authority (1984).

Kenneth L. Karst

(see also: Intergovernmental Immunity.)

About this article

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. Wyoming 460 U.S. 226 (1983)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article