The Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 prohibits discrimination in employment against persons who are at least 40 years of age (WY Stat. Sec. 27-9-101 et seq.). The Act applies to all public employers and private employers with two or more employees.
Under the state law, it is an unlawful employment practice to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, promote, demote, or otherwise discriminate in compensation or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
• Reduce the wage of any employee to comply with the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that for employees to prevail in disparate treatment age discrimination claims (i.e., intentional discrimination), they must prove that age bias was the ultimate reason the employer took an adverse employment action (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, 129 S.Ct. 2343 (2009)). Employees can no longer bring an age discrimination claim based on an employer's "mixed motive" (i.e., both legitimate factors and unlawful discrimination influenced the employment action in question). As a result, it is now more difficult for employees to prevail in age discrimination lawsuits. Employees must be able to prove not only that age motivated the employer's adverse action but also that the adverse action would not have occurred “but for” the employee’s age.
The courts in Wyoming look to federal law for guidance in analyzing age discrimination claims brought under state law. Therefore, the Supreme Court's decision in Gross is likely to influence the way state courts analyze age discrimination claims under state law.