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PRESS RELEASE
9-20-11

Oyster Bay Fire Department And Atlantic Steamer Fire Company No. 1 Settle EEOC Age Discrmimination Suit

Long Island Fire District Had Barred Firefighters From Receiving Service Credits in Retirement Benefits Program, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK  – The Oyster Bay Fire Department on Long Island  has agreed to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The fire department, as well as Atlantic Steamer  Fire Company No. 1, the Town of Oyster    Bay, and Villages of Oyster Bay Cove, Laurel Hollow,  Mill Neck and Cove Neck, together will pay at least 31 firefighters lost  pension money totaling $279,600 and provide increased monthly pension amounts  going forward to several firefighters.  All four villages are located within the Town of Oyster  Bay in Nassau County, on the north shore of Long Island,  N.Y.

The EEOC’s suit had alleged that  the defendants refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 62 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 62, 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 in the U.S. District  Court for the Eastern District of New York, Civ. No 09-3297, after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation  process.

“The system in effect penalized  older firefighters because of their age, and that was simply illegal,” said EEOC  Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman. “We welcome the decision to settle this case in a way  that ensures that these brave firefighters, who do heroic work, do not receive  different retirement benefits simply because of their age.”

  Sunu P.  Chandy, EEOC trial attorney in New York, added, “This case 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 http://www.eeoc.gov