EEOC Seal

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
11-16-11

Minnesota State Agencies Must Pay Over $574,000 For Age Bias In EEOC Suits

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.