Washington Law Review


In Dreyer v. ARCO Chemical, the Third Circuit announced a standard for double damage awards under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that departs radically from the standard the Supreme Court deemed acceptable in Trans World Airlines v. Thurston. The ADEA protects employees over forty from discrimination on the basis of age. In order to enforce the Act, Congress created a two-tier remedy scheme: one, equitable and legal remedies to reimburse discrimination victims; and two, liquidated damages (hereinafter "double damages") to punish and deter employers from committing "willful" violations. Although the Third Circuit correctly identified a possible internal inconsistency in Thurston, it employed the wrong analytic framework. The Dreyer standard creates a remedy system inconsistent with ADEA purposes, and, by design, avoids punishing intentional discrimination cases. After examining the Dreyer standard, this Note concludes that the Thurston standard should be followed and that double damages should be awarded based on conscious and unconscious violations of the ADEA.

First Page