U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Long Island Fire District Had Barred Firefighters Over 65 From Receiving Service Credits in Retirement Benefits Program, Agency Charged
NEW YORK – The Incorporated Village of Mineola, N.Y., and the Mineola Fire Department will pay $237,072 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 25 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 charged that the fire district refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 60 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 60, 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, Civil. No. 08-3973, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
“This fire department’s system in effect penalized older firefighters because of their age, and that was simply illegal,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “We welcome the fire district’s decision to settle this case in a way that ensures that these brave firefighters, who do heroic work, do not receive different retirement benefits simply because of their age.”
Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the EEOC’s district director in New York, said, “This case should remind all employers that federal law prohibits targeting older workers for discriminatory treatment, including in relation to pensions or retirement benefits.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Michael O’Brien added, “We are pleased that the parties have worked together to resolve this matter so that all the firefighters will finally receive appropriate compensation for their years of service.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws banning workplace discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.