Bayville Fire Company Settles EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Bayville  Fire Company on Long Island  has agreed to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today. The fire company, as well as the  Villages of Bayville, Mill Neck, and Centre Island, will pay a group of about  15-18 firefighters lost pension money and provide increased monthly pension  amounts going forward to several firefighters.  Depend­ing on how many class members are finally definitively identified  and the exact damages established for each one, the final total damages should  be $180,000 to $240,000.

The EEOC’s  suit had alleged that the fire company and villages had refused to let  volunteer firefighters over age 65 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 65, 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, Civ. No. 07-4472, after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement.

Under the  terms of the agreement, the fire company has agreed to provide the EEOC with  contact information for affected firefighters, and the EEOC will survey the  group to ascertain each firefighter’s lost pension. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollack, in Brooklyn, will oversee the process.

All three villages are located in  the Town of Oyster Bay  on the North Shore of Long Island, New York, and each village approved amending  the pension plan.

“The system  in effect penalized older firefighters because of their age, and that was  simply illegal,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “We welcome the 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.”

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