In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wyoming (1983), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and its extension to State and local governments in 1974 was justified by Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce. The ADEA made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees between the ages of 40 and 70.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department involuntarily retired the 55-year old plaintiff. He promptly filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that Wyoming violated the ADEA and its 1974 extension. The district court dismissed the suit claiming that if the ADEA sought to regulate Wyoming’s employment practices, then it was in violation of the Tenth Amendment immunity found in National League of Cities v. Usery (1976). The U.S. Supreme Court, however, applying the test found in Usery, held that the ADEA is a valid exercise of Congress’ interstate commerce power, because the Act does not directly impair the State’s ability to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions.