Decision Compensates State Workers Denied Benefits Under Retirement System
BOSTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that the final settlement of its class action age discrimination lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will result in well over one million dollars in benefits to former state employees.
The EEOC entered a final stipulation on May 15, endorsed by the Court on May 18, 2006, that recognized that all state, local, and municipal employees who had been discriminated against in applying for accidental disability retirements under the Massachusetts public retirement system had been identified and paid the benefits that had been wrongfully denied them. The EEOC had sued the state of Massachusetts, along with its Public Employees Retirement Administration Commission and the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement Board, in 1999 on behalf of these age discrimination victims (Case No. 99 CV 11233 RGS in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts).
The original settlement, which extended back to October 16, 1992, and which was announced in August 2000, provided accidental disability retirement pensions to all those otherwise eligible who were either denied, or discouraged from applying for these pensions solely because their ages exceeded Massachusetts's maximum age limitations. In addition, the Commonwealth had agreed to pay double damages to all those who qualified for relief under the settlement. The total amount of the monetary relief was open-ended and was determined only after all of the retirement applications were processed.
This process has already resulted in $1,266,956 being paid to 15 claimants. In the future, the claimants together will receive an additional $165,176 every year, making the probable total settlement amount several million dollars, depending on the lifespan of the recipients.
The announcement brings to a close years of litigation in which the EEOC sued Massachusetts repeatedly for its retirement system's violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Shortly before this settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns of the District of Massachusetts in 2000, the Commonwealth amended its retirement statute to delete those provisions that discriminated on the basis of age.
Noting that the Supreme Court has cut off the right of individual employees to sue states under the ADEA, EEOC New York Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman said, "The scope of this settlement should put all state employers on notice that the EEOC will continue to monitor closely the states' compliance with the ADEA."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Mark Penzel added, "We would like to commend the efforts of the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General in resolving this case promptly and fully, working with the legislature in amending the statute, and cooperating fully during the administration of the settlement process."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin, age, disability, and retaliation. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on May 22, 2006.
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