“OK, boomer” makes it to SCOTUS
By Kevin M. Mosher • Jan 16, 2020
The generation-blame-game continues, but this time Millennials are fighting back. After years of being blamed for ruining everything in the workforce (including face-to-face meetings, liquid-lunches, or the 9-to-5 work schedules) millennials now have a retort for the unwarranted criticism: OK, boomer.
The response is directed at the baby boomers, and occasionally Gen X, and is the newest progression in this generational clash, which bleeds into everyday relationships including the workplace. Although this quick retort may feel satisfying, the term potentially raises the issue of age discrimination.
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Roberts asked, as a hypothetical, if the phrase “OK, boomer” shows age bias in the workplace. The question came during oral arguments in Babb v. Wilkie, an employment age discrimination suit, where Roberts asked if stray comments, such as “OK, boomer” would be actionable if used during the hiring process of an older candidate. He further questioned if these comments were condemned, would it lead to regulation of speech in the workplace?
The line of questioning led to chuckles from other members of the court, as seen in the transcript above. Although we haven’t yet received an answer on this hypothetical, it may be best to proceed with caution. “OK, boomer” has quickly risen in popularity and we doubt this will be the last time we see this potentially discriminatory phrase being introduced in employment actions.
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