BALTIMORE, Md. -
The Baltimore County pension plan was ruled "discriminatory" by U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg, who granted a summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Judge Legg found that Baltimore County's pension plan, known as the Employee Retirement System (ERS), violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the plan is inherently discriminatory.
The EEOC initially filed suit against Baltimore County in September 2007, charging that Baltimore County discriminated against Wayne A. Lee, Richard J. Bosse, Sr., and a class of similarly situated employees at least 40 years of age by requiring them to pay higher pension contributions than those paid by younger employees.
The EEOC also named various county labor organizations as defendants who must negotiate with Baltimore County to effectuate the changes sought in its lawsuit. In January 2009, the Court awarded summary judgment in favor of Baltimore County.
After the EEOC appealed, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the entry of summary judgment and remanded the case to the District Court to decide whether Baltimore County's pension plan is supported by permissible financial considerations .
"It is pretty rare that any plaintiff can win any claim against a pension plan," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "While some may have thought the Kentucky Retirement decision spelled the death knell for this case and others like it, our perseverance paid off in limiting the impact of that decision. The EEOC is prepared to vigorously litigate these cases, where necessary, to ensure compliance with the law."
"The county made older employees pay more than younger employees for the same retirement benefits," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, without any financial justification. Older employees felt the impact of this discrimination in every paycheck. Because more money is taken out of older employees' paychecks to fund their retirement benefits, they receive less pay than younger employees doing the same job. With the court's decision, we are putting an end to this unlawful practice."
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