Court Finds Public Pension Is Age Discriminatory

April 4, 2014 ( – A federal appellate court affirmed a lower court ruling that Baltimore County, Maryland's pension plan discriminates based on age.

In the case of EEOC v. Baltimore County, et al (case no. BEL-07-2500), the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a district court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), finding that Baltimore County maintained a retirement plan that was in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and remanded the case for further proceedings on the issue of damages.

The appellate court rejected Baltimore County’s argument that the Supreme Court decision in Kentucky Retirement v. EEOC excused the pension practice. The 4th Circuit noted that unlike Kentucky’s retirement plan, which treated employees differently based on their pension status rather than on their age, Baltimore County’s plan “mandated different contribution rates that escalated explicitly in accordance with employees’ ages at the time of their enrollment in the plan.”

The EEOC filed its suit in September 2007, alleging 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 for the same pension benefits, based on their ages at hire. The EEOC also named various county labor organizations as defendants because they must negotiate with the county to effectuate the changes sought in its lawsuit.

The district court initially awarded summary judgment to Baltimore County, but the 4th Circuit Court vacated that decision upon appeal by the EEOC. On remand following the first appeal, the district court concluded that the pension plan violated the ADEA, and awarded partial summary judgment in favor of the EEOC (see “Court Finds Baltimore County Pension Plan Discriminatory”). Baltimore County then filed its own appeal.

The most-recent ruling by the 4th Circuit is here.