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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

ADEA: State Immunity

April 2, 2001


This is in response to your letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission) on March 12, 2001. You noted that in Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 120 S. Ct. 631 (2000), the Supreme Court held that states and their instrumentalities have Eleventh Amendment immunity from private lawsuits in federal court for monetary relief under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), unless the state has waived its immunity. You asked whether, despite the Kimel decision, the EEOC or the Department of Justice can pursue such remedies in federal court. You also asked: "[w]hat regulations and guidelines would cover the EEOC's pursuit of such actions?"

The federal government's authority to litigate ADEA suits against states and their instrumentalities rests with the EEOC. The Kimel decision did not affect EEOC's authority obtain monetary relief from states because the Eleventh Amendment does not apply to the federal government.

As to your second question, EEOC's ADEA regulations can be found at 29 C.F.R. Part 1625, and other relevant information can be found on EEOC's website at The Commission's enforcement of the ADEA -- including as it applies to the states -- has not changed. In light of Kimel, however, the Commission does understand its unique and important role in enforcing the ADEA to protect state employees from age discrimination and make victims whole.

Please keep in mind that this correspondence is informal guidance; it is not legal advice and does not constitute an official opinion of the EEOC. We hope that the above information is helpful to you.


Corbett Anderson

cc: Dianna Johnston

This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.