Long Island Fire District Barred Firefighters Over 55 From Receiving Service Credits in Retirement Benefits Program, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK – The Selden Fire District Selden in Suffolk County, Long Island, will pay $263,360 to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The damages will be made in retroactive payments to a group of 23 firefighters who had been discriminated against based on their age and provide increased monthly pension amounts going forward to several firefighters.
The EEOC’s suit had alleged that the fire district refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 55 accrue credit toward a “length of service award” (LOSAP), the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age. As a result, senior firefighters lost pension amounts after they turned 55, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination. The EEOC filed suit, Civ. No. 08-3974, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
“Older workers, like these firefighters, should not be deprived of valuable pension benefits simply because of their age,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This settlement ensures that these highly valued public servants will finally receive fair compensation.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Michael J. O’Brien said that this decree resolves one of several lawsuit filed by the EEOC involving volunteer firefighters. The EEOC has filed at least seven lawsuits against municipalities in New York which have limited benefits to older firefighters, O’Brien said.
Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the EEOC’s district director in New York, added, “This settlement should remind all employers, including municipal employers, that federal law prohibits targeting older workers for discriminatory treatment, including in relation to pensions or retirement benefits.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws banning workplace discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.