Impeachment trial judge asks if 'OK, Boomer' is discriminatory

15 January 2020, 23:37

Mr Roberts was contemplating whether "OK, Boomer" was discriminatory
Mr Roberts was contemplating whether "OK, Boomer" was discriminatory. Picture: PA / Twitter
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The judge overseeing US President Donald Trump's impeachment trial has questioned whether the phrase "OK, Boomer" counts as age discrimination.

Chief justice John Roberts became the first person to use the phrase in America's highest court on Wednesday.

The baby boomer judge, aged 64, was hearing a case involving unlawful age discrimination.

Supreme Court justices were considering the standard a federal employee must meet to prove their employer engaged in age-based prejudice.

Mr Roberts held a fictional exchange to help understand when an older employee could successfully sue under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

"The hiring person, who's younger, says, 'OK, Boomer', once, to the applicant," the chief justice said.

Mr Roberts is overseeing Donald Trump's impeachment trial
Mr Roberts is overseeing Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Picture: PA

Databases of high court arguments revealed that this was the first time the expression had been used in the Supreme Court.

In addition to Mr Roberts' boomer reference, 81-year-old justice Stephen Breyer talked about a hypothetical supervisor who was considering candidates for promotion.

"I certainly don't want people who are over the age of 82," Mr Breyer said, prompting laughter in the courtroom and on the bench.

The nine justices range in age from 52-year-old Neil Gorsuch to 86-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"OK, Boomer" is used by younger people to either poke fun at or criticise the less progressive, tolerant and tech-savvy ways of the baby boomer generation.

The case that was being presided over involved a veterans affairs department employee, in her early 50s, who sued for age discrimination after claiming to have been denied promotions and training opportunities.