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Press Release 04-23-2010

Selden Fire District To Pay $263,360 To Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Long Island Fire District Barred Firefighters Over 55 From Receiving Service Credits in Retirement Benefits Program, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – The Selden Fire  District Selden in Suffolk County, Long Island,  will pay $263,360 to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today. The damages will be made in  retroactive payments to a group of 23 firefighters who had been discriminated  against based on their age and provide increased monthly pension amounts going  forward to several firefighters.

The EEOC's  suit had alleged that the fire district refused to let volunteer firefighters  over age 55 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 55, 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, Civ. No. 08-3974, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement.

"Older  workers, like these firefighters, should not be deprived of valuable pension  benefits simply because of their age," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A.  Berrien. "This settlement ensures that  these highly valued public servants will finally receive fair compensation."

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney  Michael J. O'Brien said that this decree resolves one of several lawsuit filed  by the EEOC involving volunteer firefighters.  The EEOC has filed at least seven lawsuits against municipalities in New York which have  limited benefits to older firefighters, O'Brien said.

Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the EEOC's  district director in New York, added, "This settlement 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