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PRESS RELEASE
4-8-11

Minnesota Department of Human Services Must Pay More Than $467,000 For Age Bias

Consent Decree Requires Agency to Pay Damages and Provide Insurance Coverage for Former Employees

MINNEAPOLIS – A federal judge has entered a consent decree requiring the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to pay $467,165 to resolve an age discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The consent decree entered by District Court Judge David S. Doty requires DHS to pay $467,165 to 29 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. DHS 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 lawsuit against DHS, the EEOC contended that the incentive plans contained in collective bargaining agreements for certain DHS employees violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the incentive plan denied the employer contributions for premiums to persons over a certain age. (EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, No. 11-cv-00678 DSD/JJG in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota). 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.”

“The EEOC litigated and won on the issue of the illegality of this incentive plan,” said the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson. “We will continue to be on the lookout for similar plans, which essentially end up punishing people who want to work after a certain age.”

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.