Minn. Agencies Ordered to Pay Damages in Age Discrimination Case

November 17, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Three Minnesota state agencies have been ordered by three federal judges to pay damages to settle age discrimination charges filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

U.S. District Court judges ordered the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to pay damages to claimants who were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. The agencies also must to offer to pay future premium costs for persons who would still be entitled to receive  them but for the unlawful early retirement provision.

In its age discrimination lawsuits against the three agencies, the EEOC contended that the incentive plans contained in collective bargaining agreements for certain employees violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the incentive plan denied the premiums to persons  over a certain age.  

In an earlier lawsuit involving the same incentive plans, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson held the early retirement incentives are “facially  discriminatory, and, as such, violate the ADEA.”

Under the decrees, the agencies will pay the 13 individuals who lost premium amounts, amounting to a combined total of at least $574,195. The agencies also will continue to pay the insurance premiums for individuals who would still be entitled to them under the incentive plan but for their age. 

The cases are: EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Public Safety, No.11-cv-02744; EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, No.11-cv-02745 and EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Commerce, No.11-cv-02746.