School District Charged with Age Bias over Early Retirement Plan

October 4, 2011 ( - Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 discriminated on the basis of age when it applied an early retirement incentive plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based upon their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, EEOC v. Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 (CV 11-01909-PHX-DGC), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix, alleges that the school district maintained an early  retirement incentive plan that was unlawful. Specifically, the EEOC charges that the school district’s plan is discriminatory because it grants more favorable benefits to younger employees based on their age.   

According to an EEOC news release, under the school district’s retirement plan, employees are reimbursed for accumulated leave based on their age at retirement, with those retiring at a younger age being treated more favorably than those who retire after age 60.  

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits state and local governments, as well as private employers, from discriminating against individuals aged 40 and older in terms, conditions, and privileges of employment—including retirement programs– because of their age.  

The agency is seeking monetary relief including the amount of money a retiree should have received but for the discrimination with prejudgment interest. The Commission is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination to prevent Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 from engaging in further practices that discriminate on the basis of age.  

“Early retirement incentive plans which discriminate on their face based upon age are illegal and need to be changed,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, in the announcement. “People in their ‘60s should not be penalized merely because they want to continue working.”