Consent Decrees Require Three Agencies to Pay Damages and Provide Insurance Coverage for Former Employees
MINNEAPOLIS – Three federal judges have approved consent decrees ordering three Minnesota state agencies to pay damages to settle age discrimination charges filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
U.S. District Court judges ordered the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to pay damages to claimants who were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. The agencies also must to offer to pay future premium costs for persons who would still be entitled to receive them but for the unlawful early retirement provision.
In its age discrimination lawsuits against the three agencies, the EEOC contended that the incentive plans contained in collective bargaining agreements for certain employees violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the incentive plan denied the premiums to persons over a certain age. EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Public Safety, No. 11-cv-02744 SRN/SER (D. Minn.), EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, No. 11-cv-02745 PJS/JSM (D. Minn.), EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Commerce, No. 11-cv-02746 JNE/AJB (D. Minn.) In an earlier lawsuit involving the same incentive plans, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson held that the early retirement incentives are “facially discriminatory, and, as such, violate the ADEA.”
Under the decrees, the agencies will pay those 13 people the lost premium amounts, amounting to a combined total of at least $574,195. The agencies also will continue to pay the insurance premiums for those persons who would still be entitled to them under the incentive plan but for their age.
“The law is settled: it is discriminatory for employers to maintain incentive plans that explicitly reduce benefits as persons grow older,” said the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson. “We commend the State of Minnesota for working with the EEOC to resolve these cases in light of the state of the law.”
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.