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Guido v. Mount Lemmon Fire District

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 19, 2017

John Guido; Dennis Rankin, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Mount Lemmon Fire District, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted December 15, 2016 San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona D.C. No. 4:13-cv-00216-JAS James Alan Soto, District Judge, Presiding

          Shannon Giles (argued) and Don Awerkamp, Awerkamp & Bonilla P.L.C., Tucson, Arizona, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

          Jeffrey C. Matura (argued) and Amanda J. Taylor, Graif Barrett & Matura P.C., Phoenix, Arizona, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Anne Noel Occhialino (argued), Attorney; Jennifer S. Goldstein, Associate General Counsel; P. David Lopez, General Counsel; Office of General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D.C.; for Amicus Curiae Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

          Before: Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, Ronald M. Gould, and Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[*]

         Employment Discrimination

         The panel reversed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the defendant fire district, a political subdivision of Arizona, in an action brought by two firefighter captains under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

         Disagreeing with other circuits, the panel held that a political subdivision of a State need not have twenty or more employees in order to qualify as an employer subject to the requirements of the ADEA. The panel remanded the case for further proceedings.

          OPINION

          O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge:

         We must decide whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 applies to a political subdivision of Arizona.

         I

         John Guido and Dennis Rankin were both hired in 2000 by Mount Lemmon Fire District, a political subdivision of the State of Arizona. Guido and Rankin served as full-time firefighter Captains. They were the two oldest full-time employees at the Fire District when they were terminated on June 15, 2009, Guido at forty-six years of age and Rankin at fifty-four.

         Guido and Rankin subsequently filed charges of age discrimination against the Fire District with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which issued separate favorable rulings for each, finding reasonable cause to believe the Fire District violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34 ("ADEA"). They then filed this suit for age discrimination against the Fire District in April 2013.

         The district court granted the Fire District's motion for summary judgment, concluding that it was not an "employer" within the meaning of the ADEA.

         Guido and Rankin timely appealed.

         II

         Guido and Rankin challenge the district court's conclusion that the Fire District was not an "employer" within the meaning of the ADEA.

         A

         The ADEA applies only to an "employer." Under 29 U.S.C. ...


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