Fire Districts Settle Age Discrimination in Pensions Charges

October 3, 2011 ( - The Town of Clarence, New York, and the Clarence, Harris Hill, East Amherst, and Swormville Fire Protection Districts and Volunteer Fire Companies will pay $441,740 to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The lawsuit charged that the town and the fire departments refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 62 accrue service credit under their “Length of Service Award Programs” or “LOSAPs,” the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age (see EEOC Sues another NY Town for Pension Age Discrimination). A news release said the suit further charged that the East Amherst Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Company prohibited volunteer firefighters over the age 55 from accruing credit. As a result, the senior firefighters kept working but did not receive credit for their service once they reached the maximum age, a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  

Although the fire companies amended their LOSAPs in January 2006 to allow firefighters to continue to earn award credit without regard to age, they did not credit those firefighters for the years in which they had lost out.  

The damages will be made in retroactive payments to a group of 35 firefighters, including the beneficiaries for eight deceased firefighters who had been discriminated against based on their age. Several firefighters will also receive increased monthly pension amounts going forward.