EEOC Charges Fire Company with Age Discrimination

The agency accuses the fire company and several Long Island towns and villages with preventing older workers from earning credits toward a pension-like program.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that the Glenwood Fire Company, along with several towns and villages in Long Island, New York, have discriminated against older firefighters from accruing credits toward a pension-like plan.

The “length of service award program” (LOSAP), similar to a retirement pension, was created by the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay and the villages of Old Brookville and Roslyn Harbor. The plan unlawfully prohibits volunteer firefighters from accruing service credits after they turn 55.

EEOC argues that the Glenwood LOSAP violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers ages 40 or older from age discrimination.

EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process with the municipalities and the fire company.

The suit seeks to fix the LOSAP, award all service credit earned regardless of age, and pay the affected firefighters or their beneficiaries all retroactive and future benefits earned.

Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney on the case, says, “The Glenwood LOSAP blatantly penalizes older firefighters who have continued to be active members of the fire company.”

Other fire districts in New York have previously settled similar charges with the EEOC.