An EEOC news release said the suit alleged that between 1990 and 2004, the Brentwood Fire District and Brentwood Fire Department prohibited volunteer firefighters over age 62 from accruing credit toward a “length of service award,” the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age.
As a result, the senior firefighters kept working but did not receive credit for their service once they reached 62. The EEOC said this age restriction constitutes a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination.
The consent decree settling the suit permanently eliminates an age restriction on service credit, mandates training for individuals responsible for implementing this program, and institutes an anti-discrimination policy, the agency said.
Retroactive payments will be made to 28 volunteer firefighters who had been barred from receiving credit for their service because of their age, the EEOC said. The settlement also provides for an increase in monthly pension payments to 20 of those firefighters who are still living.
The Village of Amityville, New York, and the Amityville Fire Department recently agreed to pay $209,280 to settle a similar EEOC lawsuit (see NY Town Settles Suit over Restricting Older Worker Pensions).