MN Agency Must Pay for Age Bias in Early Retirement Program

April 13, 2011 ( - A federal judge has entered a consent decree requiring the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to pay $467,165 to resolve an age discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC announced that the Minnesota agency must pay the damages to 29 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. DHS 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.  

According to the announcement, in its lawsuit against DHS, the EEOC contended that the incentive plans contained in collective bargaining agreements for certain DHS employees violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the incentive plan denied the employer contributions for 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 that the early retirement incentives are “facially discriminatory, and, as such, violate the ADEA.”  

We will continue to be on the lookout for similar plans, which essentially end up punishing people who want to work after a certain age.” said the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson, in the announcement.  

The case is EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, No. 11-cv-00678 DSD/JJG in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.