Tempe School District Settles EEOC Suit

May 25, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 has settled an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The district will pay $148,092 and other relief to 49 class members, all of whom retired after April 3, 2008. They will receive the difference between what they were paid for their leave payouts and what they should have been paid for those payouts had there been no unlawful discrimination. 

According to the EEOC’s suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona,  the school district violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by utilizing an early retirement incentive plan and a normal retirement plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based solely on their age (see “School District Charged with Age Bias over Early Retirement Plan”).

“Early retirement incentive plans and normal retirement plans which are facially discrimina­tory need to be changed,” said  EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.   “Discrimination on the basis of age is simply illegal.  People in their 60s should not be penalized merely because they want to continue working.  A retirement plan which states, for example, that employees 52 years old will receive a greater economic benefit than an employee 61 years old for retiring early is discriminatory on its face.” 

As part of the settlement, the court decreed that the district will have to provide anti-discrimination training for all employees and review all policies to ensure a work environment free from age discrimination.  In addition, the court forbade the district from reinstating the unlawful policy or adopting policies that violate the ADEA


Jay Polansky