Imagine a forty-nine-year-old state police officer and father of four, who has just returned to work from visiting family in New York where he ran in his fourth marathon. Before heading out in the field, he checks his email and notices that he is meeting with the Superintendent of State Police in one hour. At the meeting, the Chief of Police tells him something he has been dreading to hear. He confirms that, due to compliance with certain mandatory procedures, once he turns fifty years old, in six months, he must retire from the state police.
The Superintendent tells him that his retirement is unrelated to his job performance, and he offers no credible reason. Retirement is required simply because under state law he is presumed physically unable to perform the requirements of the job, although he is in excellent physical condition. It is of no consequence that he passed the fitness test required by the state police two months earlier, performing well above other officers more than twenty-five years younger. It is also irrelevant that his mental ability to handle a desk job at the regional headquarters is also exemplary.