Federal Agency Says School District Denied Employees Benefits Based on Their Age
PHOENIX -- Murphy School District No. 21, a public school district in the city of Phoenix, unlawfully used an early retirement incentive plan which grants greater economic benefits to younger retirees based upon their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in an age discrimination lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Murphy School District's early retirement incentive plan is facially discriminatory because it grants more favorable benefits to younger early retirees based on their age. The school district adopted the plan in the 1980s.
Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), early retirement incentive plans which discriminate on the basis of age violate the law. The ADEA prohibits employers, including state and local governments, from discriminating against individuals age 40 and older in all aspects of employment, including pension benefit plans, because of their age.
The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Murphy School District No. 21, (CV 14-00721-PHX-SRB), in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking monetary relief, including the amount of money a retiree should have received but for the discrimination, with pre-judgment interest, and liquidated damages. The EEOC is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination and other curative relief to prevent Murphy School District No. 21 from engaging in any further discriminatory practices.
"Early retirement incentive plans like this which are facially age-discriminatory need to be changed," said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "People in their 60s should not be penalized merely because they want to continue working."
District Director Rayford O. Irvin of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office added, "Age discrimination is of great concern to the EEOC. The ADEA was enacted to eliminate discrimination against older workers, and the EEOC will actively pursue cases where this type of unfairness is disadvantaging people."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.