No Service Credit for Older Workers, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK - Glenwood Hook & Ladder, Engine & Hose Company, Inc., along with several towns and villages in Long Island, are in violation of federal law because they prevent older firefighters from accruing service credits based on their age, the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The fire company provides fire protection and rescue services to the hamlets of Glen Head and Glenwood Landing, the Villages of Old Brookville, and portions of the Village of Roslyn Harbor.
EEOC's suit alleges that the Glenwood Fire Company has a "length of service award program" (LOSAP), which is similar to a retirement pension, that was created by the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay and the villages of Old Brookville and Roslyn Harbor. EEOC charges that the Glenwood LOSAP unlawfully prohibits volunteer firefighters from accruing service credits when they turn 55. As a result, firefighters who continue to be active members of the fire company past that age lose service award benefits.
EEOC argues that the Glenwood LOSAP violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Civ. No. 2:15-cv-05592, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process with the municipalities and the fire company. The suit seeks to fix the LOSAP, award all service credit earned regardless of age, and pay the affected firefighters or their beneficiaries all retroactive and future benefits earned.
"Volunteer firefighters provide crucial services to the public and federal law prohibits discrimination against them, including in relation to pensions or retirement benefits," said EEOC New York District Director Kevin J. Berry. "EEOC intends to right this wrong."
Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, said, "The Glenwood LOSAP blatantly penalizes older firefighters who have continued to be active members of the fire company."
EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency and the ADEA is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.