The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday in favor of two Arizona firefighters who claimed they were fired because of their advanced age.
In the court's first opinion following oral argument of its new term, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the Age Discrimination Act covers state and local governments without regard to the number of workers they employ.
While the original 1967 law applied to private employers with at least 20 workers, Ginsburg noted, the 1974 amendment said the term employer "also means" a state or its political subdivision without any numerical threshold.
"The ordinary meaning of 'also means' is additive," Ginsburg said in explaining her opinion from the bench, sticking closely to the words used by Congress.
The ruling was a victory for John Guido, 46 when he was laid off, and Dennis Rankin, then 54, in their lawsuit against the Mount Lemmon Fire District.