Retirement System Penalized Older Firefighters Because of Age, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK – The Village of Amityville, N.Y., and the Amityville Fire Department will pay $209,280 to settle a class age-discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit alleged that Amityville refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 65 accrue credit toward a “length of service award,” the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age. As a result, senior firefighters lost pension amounts after they turned 65, 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 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Civ. No. 2:09-03742 ADS/AKT, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
The consent decree filed in resolution of this suit permanently eliminates an age restriction on service credit, mandates training for individuals responsible for this program and institutes an anti-discrimination policy. Further, retroactive payments will be made to 23 volunteer firefighters who had been barred from receiving credit for their service because of their age. The settlement also provides for increased monthly pension amounts for 15 of those firefighters still living.
“The fire department’s system penalized older firefighters because of their age, and that was simply illegal,” said Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case.
EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Judy Keenan said, “We are pleased that the parties worked together to resolve this matter so that these brave firefighters, who risk their lives, will finally receive appropriate compensation for their years of service.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.