Lorillard v. Pons - 434 U.S. 575 (1978)
U.S. Supreme Court
Lorillard v. Pons, 434 U.S. 575 (1978)
Lorillard v. Pons
Argued December 6, 1977
Decided February 22, 1978
434 U.S. 575
In a private civil action for lost wages under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), a trial by jury is available where sought by one of the parties, since, although the ADEA contains no provision expressly granting a right to jury trial in such cases, the ADEA's structure demonstrates a congressional intent to grant such a right. Pp. 434 U. S. 577-585.
(a) The directive of § 7(b) of the ADEA that the Act be enforced in accordance with the "powers, remedies, and procedures" of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a significant indication of Congress' intent. Long before the ADEA was enacted, courts had uniformly interpreted the FLSA to afford a right to jury trial in private actions pursuant to that Act. Congress can be presumed to have been aware of that interpretation, and, by incorporating certain remedial and procedural provisions of the FLSA into the ADEA, Congress demonstrated its intention to afford a right to jury trial. Pp. 434 U. S. 581-582.
(b) By directing in § 7(b) of the ADEA that actions for lost wages be treated as actions for unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation under the FLSA, Congress dictated that the jury trial right then available to enforce that FLSA liability would also be available in private actions under the ADEA. This conclusion is supported by the language of § 7(b) empowering a court to grant "legal or equitable relief" and of § 7(c) authorizing individuals to bring actions for "legal or equitable relief." It can be inferred that Congress knew the significance of the term "legal," and that, by providing specifically for "legal" relief, it intended that there would be a jury trial on demand to enforce liability for amounts deemed to be unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation. Pp. 434 U. S. 582-583.
(c) A contrary congressional intent cannot be found by comparing the ADEA with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Assuming, arguendo, that Congress did not intend that there be jury trials in private actions under Title VII, there is a material difference between the ADEA and Title VII. In contrast to the ADEA, Title VII does not, in so many words, authorize "legal" relief, and the availability of
backpay is a matter of equitable discretion. It appears, moreover, that Congress rejected the course of adopting Title VII procedures for ADEA actions in favor of incorporating the FLSA procedures. Pp. 434 U. S. 583-585.
549 F.2d 950, affirmed.
MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined except BLACKMUN, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.