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Unions' role in intersectional age discrimination litigation cases

Marsha Katz (Department of Management, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois, USA)
Helen LaVan (Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, DePaul University–Loop Campus, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 25 October 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023




How older workers pursue their employment discrimination claims is the focus of this study. This is part of the broader question of how older, unionized employees pursuing their statutory rights fare in litigation and how unions might organize and subsequently better protect older workers who have been discriminated against.


This study is a random sample of 1889 litigated age discrimination cases in Federal courts using NVivo to conduct a content analysis on unionization, individual, organizational and legal variables.


An analysis of case characteristics and outcomes in cases filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act indicated that older unionized workers pursuing their claims are more likely to have rulings in their favor. Other demographic characteristics of the cases in which unionized workers prevailed include seniority, disability, filing under Title VII and cases involving retaliation.

Research limitations/implications

Importantly, empirical legal scholarship, using the case as the unit of analysis, will significantly add to the understanding of how age discrimination might be reduced through litigation. Empirical legal scholarship strategies would also suggest identifying labor tribunal or arbitration cases. Using content analysis would allow for a deep understanding at the micro level of the context that led to the charges of age (or other types) of discrimination.

Practical implications

This study offers evidence that union representation can add value when older employees are pursuing their rights in litigation.


This research focuses on individuals who have actually been discriminated against using empirical legal scholarship, content analysis and big data analytics.



Katz, M. and LaVan, H. (2023), "Unions' role in intersectional age discrimination litigation cases", Employee Relations, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 328-344.



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