Noris Babb, a pharmacist with the VA, started a team of people specifically designed to help elderly veterans with problems unique to elderly veterans. Because of this unique position, they gave Babb the authority to write prescriptions, even though she wasn’t a medical doctor, because her position to some extent required her to be able to do that.
The VA liked her old fart program so much, they created a much larger program modeled after it. During this time, they denied the ability of several pharmacists above fifty years old, while approving the same ability for some younger pharmacists under forty. So these old farts filed an Equal Employment Opportunity claim, stating they were discriminated against because of their terminal and persistent geriatric condition.
Babb, who had this authority decided to support the old farts, and wrote a letter assisting them with their claim. But after she did so, she applied to be a part of this new program, since it was her baby after all, and she was denied.
Presumably, her supporting the old farts against the VA didn’t sit well with the VA, so they added a much larger workload to Babb, which she couldn’t maintain. As a result, they stripped her of the authority to write prescriptions, and denied her involvement in this new program that she helped create, citing her non-compliance with their requirements as their reason.
And to really rub that shit in, they gave the credentials and job to a younger sub-30 year old woman instead.
So Babb was all like, “This is fucking bullshit, you assholes.” So off they go to SCOTUS to determine if she has to prove age was a factor in her being denied the opportunity, in order to make her claim it was age discrimination. It appears she makes a fair case that they retaliated against her, but she’s also claiming age discrimination since the promoted female they chose instead of her was much younger.
SCOTUS, in an 8-1 majority sided with Babb. The ADEA prohibits a federal employer from using age as a consideration when making employment decisions. But they stated that while it doesn’t have to be the but-for cause to win a judgement, the remedy the courts offer should take that into consideration. Only Clarence Thomas disagreed, basically arguing the court wasn’t very specific in its ruling, and would make it much harder for federal agencies to operate going forward.