The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



WASHINGTON -- Ida L. Castro, Chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), met today with a delegation of Congress led by Representative Bernard Sanders of Vermont to discuss concerns that employer conversions to cash-balance pensions plans may violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

"EEOC will continue to assess the difficult questions that surround this issue and how they are affected by the anti-discrimination laws," said Ms. Castro. "Because of the complexity involved in the formulation, issuance, and conversion of different types of pension plans, we want to hear from all stakeholders in order to reach fair conclusions and correct interpretations of the law."

"The Commission will foster a constructive and open dialogue with all parties that have an interest in this issue," Chairwoman Castro said. "In addition to hearing from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, we intend to meet with and receive feedback from the employer, labor, and civil rights communities, as well as other federal agencies to determine the best course of action."

The question at the center of the debate is whether older workers are unlawfully discriminated against when employers convert from traditional pension plans to cash balance pension plans, which may reduce the expected retirement benefits of older employees while increasing the benefits allotted to younger workers. The issue, which recently has generated significant national media attention, has been raised by a diverse body of individuals and organizations with a vital stake in the outcome.

In addition to enforcing the ADEA, which protects workers 40 and older from employment discrimination, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Equal Pay Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Additional information about EEOC is available on the agency's web site (

This page was last modified on September 14, 1999.

Return to Home Page