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PRESS RELEASE
5-24-12

Tempe Elementary School District to Pay $148,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Retirement Plans Disadvantaged  Older Employees, Federal Agency Charged

PHOENIX – Tempe Elementary School District No.  3 will pay $148,092 and furnish other relief to settlean age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the school  district utilized an early retirement incentive plan and a normal retirement  plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based solely  on their age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). 

The EEOC filed suit in  U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach  a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

As a result of the EEOC’s investigation and  litigation, the school district recently revised its retirement plans to comply  with the ADEA.  The agency obtained all  the actual damages it sought, together with interest.  The school district agreed to pay employees  who retired after April 3, 2008 the difference between what they were paid for  their leave payouts and what they should have been paid for those payouts had  there been no unlawful discrimination.  

 In addition to the monetary  payments totaling $148,092 to 49 class members, the consent decree entered by  the court today requires anti-discrimination training for all employees and  review of all policies and practices to ensure a work environment free from age  discrimination.  The decree also orders  that the school district shall not reinstate the unlawful policy or adopt policies  that violate the ADEA.

“Early retirement incentive plans and normal  retirement plans which are facially discrimina­tory need to be changed,” said  EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.   “Discrimination on the basis of age is simply illegal.  People in their 60s should not be penalized  merely because they want to continue working.  A retirement plan which states, for example,  that employees 52 years old will receive a greater economic benefit than an  employee 61 years old for retiring early is discriminatory on its face.”

  Rayford  O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “We  will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment  discrimination on all fronts, including discrimin­ation based on age.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has  jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico  (including Albuquerque).

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal  laws prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov