WASHINGTON - Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), released the following statement:
"I am saddened and disappointed by AARP's premature legal action February 4 to block a Commission rule that would protect retirees' health benefits. But it's important to note that the judge's order is not a decision about the merits of AARP's arguments. Rather, the parties agreed to a 60-day hold on issuing the rule to fully brief the Court on this complex issue.
"The Commission and AARP share values and goals for protecting retirees' health benefits. But AARP, after failing to work in good faith to offer a viable compromise, is trying to block a sound rule that has drawn strong support from both the employer and labor communities as well as from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The major teachers unions continue to urge the Commission to act because the benefits of thousands of teachers nationwide remain in jeopardy without the Commission's rule.
"The new rule will help safeguard existing and future health benefits for America's retirees by ensuring that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not impede employers' ability to offer retiree health plans. Specifically, the rule will clarify that employers may continue to coordinate retiree health benefit plans with eligibility for Medicare or a comparable state health benefit without violating the ADEA. It does not change current employer practices or plans, nor does it affect any other legal obligations an employer may have. On the contrary, the rule removes an impediment to employers so that they may continue providing retirees with critical health care coverage.
"Any delay in implementing the rule endangers vital protections for retirees.
"The Commission is confident on both policy and legal bases in its authority to implement the rule, and is prepared to defend that position. The ADEA authorizes the Commission to approve exemptions to the law in those rare instances in which application of the law would be contrary to the public interest. Because the Erie County decision was contributing to a continuing decline in the availability of employer-provided retiree health benefits, the Commission concluded that it would be in the best interest of employers, employees, and retirees to permit employers to offer these benefits to the greatest extent possible."
EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on February 10, 2005.
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