Baltimore County workers who overpaid into pension won’t get paid back

The Baltimore County government will not have to pay millions of dollars to employees who for years overpaid into the county pension system, a federal judge ruled this week.

Courts had already ruled in 2012 that the county’s pension system was discriminatory, because older workers were required to pay more than younger workers.

But on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett ruled the county doesn’t have to pay back the workers who were overcharged.

The county could have been on the hook for as much as $19 million in payments to the workers.

“We are greatly relieved to have it resolved at this point,” said James Nolan, an assistant county attorney.

It’s not clear how many workers might have been due payment. The county had said it would have taken years of research to figure out how much workers would have been owed.

Any repayments would have been focused on workers hired before 2007. That’s when the county ended its decades-long practice of setting pension contribution rates based on age.

The county first received complaints that the pension system was discriminatory in 1999 and 2000, when two correctional officers lodged complaints through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC didn’t sue on the workers’ behalf until 2007, and Bennett said the EEOC’s “unreasonable delay” in bringing the lawsuit was a factor in not awarding damages.

When the complaints were first made, the county denied wrongdoing and sent information backing up its argument to the EEOC — but heard nothing for years, and all the while unwittingly racked up a potential bill of damages it might have had to pay to the affected workers, the judge noted.

“Baltimore County had reason to believe that its pension plan contribution scheme was entirely lawful prior to the determination of liability in the present case,” Bennett wrote.

The judge also noted that monetary damages haven’t been awarded in similar pension cases, and that damages aren’t required under the law that’s central to this case: the federal Age Discrimination and Employment Act.

The pension system includes all county workers except Board of Education employees, who participate in a different system. There are about 9,500 active employees and 6,000 retirees in the system.

County workers weren’t really expecting to recover any money from the case, said Norman Anderson, president of AFSCME Local 921, which represents about 700 trades workers in several county departments.

Most of the employees in his union who were hired before 2007 have since retired or moved on, Anderson said.

“I guess [the ruling] is a little sad for some,” he said.

Dave Rose, second vice president of FOP Lodge 4, which represents county police officers, said some officers were paying 2 percent more toward pensions than younger colleagues for years.

“That adds up to quite a bit of money. That’s a shame,” Rose said.

As part of the lawsuit, the county and its unions agreed earlier this year on new pension contribution rates eliminating age-based rates for all workers — including those hired before 2007.

The case had bounced around the federal court system for years between rulings and appeals, and almost made a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court refused to hear the case in 2014.

The judge’s decision this week closes the case, unless the EEOC files an appeal. Officials with the EEOC declined to comment Friday.

It also spells the likely end of a companion lawsuit. The county had sued its longtime pension adviser, Buck Consultants, in an attempt to make that company pay some or all of any damages in the pension case. Officials said the county had relied on advice from Buck Consultants, now a subsidiary of Xerox, in making decisions about the pension system for 70 years. That lawsuit was on hold while the main lawsuit was decided.

The county has since dropped Buck Consultants and now receives advice from Bolton Partners.

Meanwhile, the county lost a decision in another long-running employee lawsuit this week. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled against the county Thursday in a case over how much police retirees had to pay for their health insurance.

Courts previously ruled the county had to pay back more than $1.6 million to retired police officers who were overcharged for their health insurance. The county fought the case for years and, at one point, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz risked being held in contempt of court for not paying the money.

The county eventually paid, but continued to fight the ruling. The money has been held in an escrow account and the union hopes the money can be distributed soon, said Rose of the FOP.

The case started in 2007 and at least 10 FOP members who were due money have died, Rose said.

County officials declined to comment on the case Friday because the lawyers hadn’t yet reviewed the ruling.

Writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge Robert N. McDonald said the county didn’t make any compelling new arguments in its latest appeal.

In his opinion, McDonald quoted “a noted philosopher in another line of work” — late baseball great Yogi Berra — saying the latest review of the case was “like deja vu all over again.”

pwood@baltsun.com

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Judge rules Baltimore Co. owes no damages in age-discrimination case

Baltimore County will not have to pay any damages as part of a settlement of a federal age-discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett ruled Wednesday that neither retroactive nor prospective monetary relief was available under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and closed the case, which dates back to 1999.

The EEOC challenged the county’s practice of requiring older employees to contribute more to their pension plans than younger colleagues who’ve worked for the county for the same length of time in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Although the county changed its policy July 1, 2007 so that new hires would contribute to their pensions at a flat rate regardless of their age at the time they were hired, the contribution rates for employees hired before that date continued to be age-based, according to the consent decree signed in April.

Under the decree, Baltimore County and six unions representing county employees are enjoined from requiring employees who are at least 40 years old to contribute to their pensions at higher rates than younger employees due to their age.

The case is U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Baltimore County, et al., 1:07-cv-02500-RDB.

Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 Wins Retiree Subsidy Case in Maryland’s Highest Court

The Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 has prevailed at the Court of Appeals against Baltimore County in the retiree subsidy case.  Read the decision here. The case started in September 2007 as a grievance and arbitration.  The history of the case can be found under FOP Links on our website.

The County Administration has fought this case at every level and now they have been denied by Maryland’s highest court.

Now that we have the decision from Maryland’s highest court, we will be working on disseminate the money owed to the affected retirees.

Fallen Hero Anniversary: Samuel Snyder

This is a reminder of the anniversary date of the line-of-duty-death of Samuel Snyder on Tuesday, August 23, 2016.

In August of 1983, Corporal Samuel Snyder, a thirty-year veteran of the department, was shot by a deranged subject while responding to a call for assistance from fellow officers in Towson. Corporal Snyder died on August 23, 1983 as a result of his wounds.

Under Departmental regulations Memorial Ribbon Bars may be worn on the uniform, above all other ribbons above the badge, on the anniversary dates of Baltimore County police officers killed-in-the-line-of-duty.

Members are encouraged to honor and remember Samuel Snyder by wearing their Memorial Ribbon Bars on August 23rd of each year.

Fallen Hero Anniversary Date: Lieutenant Michael Howe

This is a reminder of the anniversary date of the Line-of-Duty Death of Lieutenant Michael Howe on August 11, 2008.  Lt. Howe died as a result of suffering a fatal stroke after clearing from a barricade incident involving a murder-suicide.

Under Department Regulations, Memorial Ribbon Bars may be worn on the uniform, above all ribbons above the badge, or mourning bands may be worn on the badge on the anniversary dates of Baltimore County Police Officers killed in the line-of-duty.

Members are encouraged to honor and remember Lt. Michael Howe by wearing their Memorial Ribbon Bars or mourning bands on Thursday, August 11, 2016.

 

Baltimore County Again Pays out $400,000 to an Employee for Violating the Americans with Disabilities Act

On July 14, 2016, a jury returned a verdict in favor of an employee formerly employed by Baltimore County, Maryland.   The jury found that Baltimore County unlawfully terminated the employee in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The jury also found that the County violated the ADA when it made undue medical inquiries and sent him for an undue medical examination.  The employee was represented by Francis J. Collins.

The employee had begun working for Baltimore County’s Department of Highways as a laborer in 2006.  At about the same time he was diagnosed with cancer.  He was treated and prevailed in his battle with cancer.  In 2007, he was again diagnosed with cancer, treated, and prevailed.  He worked throughout much of his treatment.

In 2009, the employee strained his back.  The County sought, in violation of the ADA, all of his medical records, including records about his battles with cancer.  In 2010, the employee again strained his back.  He took off several weeks of work and recovered. He was cleared to return to work.  The County, however, in violation of the ADA, referred him for an evaluation not limited to his back and, instead, encompassing his battles with cancer.  The County’s doctor concluded that the employee, who was doing his job successfully at the time, could not do his job.  The County decided to terminate the employee for his disability or for his perceived disability.  He challenged the decision. The County, however, insisted on terminating him without any effort to accommodate him or assess his ability and facilitate his continued employment.  The employee engaged FJ Collins to represent him.

The employee filed a charge against the County with the EEOC.  The EEOC found cause to believe the County discriminated against him.  On behalf of the employee, FJ Collins filed a lawsuit against Baltimore County.  The lawsuit went to trial on July 11, 2016.  On July 14, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the employee.  The jury awarded the employee $96,000 in back pay and $298,000 in compensatory damages for wrongfully terminating him in violation of the ADA.  The jury awarded him another $6,000 in compensatory damages for unlawfully seeking his medical records and referring him to an unlawfully broad medical examination.

The verdict is a striking reminder of the importance of the ADA, which not only protects disabled employees but also protects employees perceived as disabled, and at the same time protects employee health information.  The ADA is meant to enable employment and facilitate appropriate discussions to continue and safeguard employment. The ADA is meant to protect employees from unduly broad examinations and inquiries of health information by employers.

Baltimore County went too far here, inquiring too much, and terminating, not facilitating, employment for the employee.
Bingman Motion

A bill to reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) has been introduced this Congress. H.R. 711, The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act

Summary of H.R. 711, to Reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

A bill to reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) has been introduced this Congress. H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, was introduced by Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, R-TX.

The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of local, state and federal retirees who worked in Social Security-covered employment (e.g., private-sector jobs) and who also receive a government annuity from their non-Social Security covered government employment (e.g. CSRS).

The FOP has long sought repeal of the WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which reduces or eliminates the spousal Social Security benefits of some retirees. The FOP continues to support full repeal of the GPO and WEP, but there has been little success in achieving that goal to date.

The FOP also supports WEP reform via H.R. 711, which has a chance of moving through Congress and providing some relief to those penalized by the WEP.

What Does the Bill Do?

H.R. 711 reduces the WEP penalty on an individual’s Social Security benefits. H.R. 711 affects those already being penalized by the WEP and those that will eventually be penalized by the WEP. It does not repeal the WEP.

•    For individuals who turn age 62 before 2017: The bill would reduce the current WEP penalty on their Social Security benefits by a certain percentage, not to exceed 50 percent. The exact amount will be determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) actuary. This penalty reduction would not be retroactive, but only be for Social Security payments going forward starting in 2017. The SSA actuary estimated that the full 50 percent reduction in the WEP penalty would apply.

•    For individuals turning 62 in or after 2017: The formula used to determine an individual’s WEP penalty would be replaced with a new, fairer formula. These individuals would still have a WEP penalty on their Social Security benefits, but the new formula would likely reduce it. The SSA actuary estimated that about 83 percent of those affected by WEP would see an average increase in benefits of $77 per month, while about 17 percent would see an average decrease in benefits of $13 per month.

What are the Bill’s Prospects?

H.R. 711 has a greater chance of passing than previous efforts because:

•    Its sponsor, Rep. Brady, is now chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the bill, and has   indicated he intends to advance the bill;
•    The bill has bipartisan support;
•    The House Ways and Means Social Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill; and
•    The bill is cost neutral, meaning it will not add to the deficit.

Call 844-259-9352 and ask your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 711
Legislation Supported by the FOP in the 114th Congress

 

 

Bailiff Job : ID 1412

I have attached the job announcement for a Bailiff position in Baltimore county. If you could post it would be greatly appreciated.

Anyone can contact me JOE HERBERT at 410-512-2015. Thanks so much

Joe Herbert  410-512-2015

Job Title  Bailiff  Job ID 1412

Location  Baltimore County

Full/Part Time  Part-Time

Regular/Temporary   Contractual

Closing Date:   Open Until Filled

Office:             Baltimore County District Court, Towson, MD

Grade/Salary:   J9/1 $17.65 per hour

Position Type:  Contractual Part-time

FLSA Status:    Non-Exempt

Financial Disclosure: No

Essential Functions:  Work involves ensuring the safety of visitors, judges, employees, and the general public who visit the District Court.  Duties also include preparing courtrooms for sessions, maintaining order in the courtroom and operating the courthouse metal detector.  As considerable public contact is involved, the employee is required to exercise the practical judgment necessary to cope with unusual situations on an emergency basis.  Bailiffs are considered essential personnel and are subject to call-in during emergencies and staffing shortages.  In the event that the building is closed either temporarily or for the remainder of the day, Bailiffs are required to remain at their post until relieved by proper authority.

Education:
High school diploma/GED and MUST be a graduate of a Police Training Academy.

Experience: Previous law enforcement experience.

Requirements:

Bailiffs must be able to successfully obtain and maintain licensing/certification in the following areas: Special Police Commission  and Maryland State Handgun permit, both within 6 months of hire date; and licensing for all less lethal devices (OC spray); AED/CPR certification.

Physical Demands:  Work requires frequent physical effort such as standing and walking for eight hours daily and requires the physical ability to restrain and/or detain individuals. A physical examination is required.  Ability to exercise independent judgement.  Ability to exercise tact under pressure or in difficult situations with the public and diffuse situations in which parties may be hostile and in conflict with each other. Ability to recognize dangerous situations. Ability to perform all the essential functions of the position.

The Maryland Judiciary is a drug-free workplace and an equal opportunity employer, committed to diversity in the workplace.  We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, familial status, genetic information, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by State or federal law.  Applicants who need an ADA Accommodation for an interview should request the accommodation when notified of a request to be interviewed.  Applicants must be United States citizens or eligible to work in the United States.

 

 

Road to Hope 2016 Bike Ride

Dear Cole, Board and General Membership of F.O.P. Lodge #4:

I wanted to let you know personally how much your generous donations meant not only to me but to the recipients of the Law Enforcement United (L.E.U.), Road to Hope 2016 Bike Ride donations. Many of you donated on your own and wrote kind words and fond memories of Mark on my page. I read each of these to our kids, we were all so touched. They mean more than you will ever know. Thank you! The donation made from the Lodge left me speechless and you can bet I bragged of your generosity to fellow riders. Officers who I ride next to often ask those of us who are survivors to share our story and I am always thankful for the opportunity to talk about Mark and the Baltimore Co Police Dept, and of course Lodge 4.

A little bit about the bike ride. L.E.U. has been in existence now for only six years. Their goal is to Honor the fallen officers and to remember the survivors. There are several L.E.U. teams (Reading, Pa, Chesapeake, Va, Ruff Riders for ride for L.O.D deaths canine dogs–they ride the C&O trail and now a team from New Jersey).  Once again I rode with the Reading, Pa team which is supported by motors from local townships near Reading, departments in Pittsburgh and Lancaster. We start in Reading on day 1 of our ride and finish up near York, we stop along the way at local volunteer fire halls or Police/fire Memorials. Day 2 we ride into Maryland crossing into Harford County and ride through Towson and spend the night in Hanover. Day 3 we head towards D.C. where we meet up with the other 3 L.E.U.  teams of riders and head towards a National Memorial where there is a ceremony and many of the surviving families are there to greet us.Ride group

I rode this year for the first Maine State Trooper killed in the L.O.D. He was shot and killed during a bank robbery in 1964, he was only 28 years old.  His wife Mary was pregnant with their third son when she heard about the shooting on the radio. Mary and her family had very little support back then. She faced an uphill battle, eventually having one of her sons commit suicide. The youngest son attended the C.O.P.S. Adult Children retreat for the first time last June- he is ~ 52 years old. He met our daughter Caroline that weekend. He persuaded his mom to attend her first Spouse retreat last September, which is where I met Mary.  Mary’s families sacrifice touched me so. She shared with me how she eventually ran for the Maine State Legislature and sponsored legislation implementing the L.O.D. death benefit for Maine’s fallen heroes. Mary has never been to D.C., she has never seen her husband’s name on the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall. At the age of 80 Mary made it to D.C. this year. I was most honored to have rode for Trooper Black and was so pleased that Mary was there to greet me and the other L.E.U. riders as we rode into the Iwo Jima Monument.

This year our Reading team (~ 80 riders and 30 support) had officers and support from Colorado, various parts of Ohio, Syracuse NY, Florida and of course many from Pennsylvania. It was only myself and a Baltimore City SWAT officer though from Maryland. The commitment and sacrifice these riders/motors/support make by leaving their families, their jobs, taking PTO, raising funds and not to mention riding over 210 + miles on a bike is humbling. This year all 4 teams of the L.E.U. raised $300,00.00 towards C.O.P.S. Kids camp, $75,000.00 towards the O.D.M.P. (which honors our fallen officers) and $20,000.00 towards the Spirit of Blue Foundation (which works towards enhancement of officer safety on the job).Ride pipes

I am honored and grateful I can ride this bike ride and God Willing I will do so again next year. I would love to have some Baltimore County officers join me in riding and/or providing support. Please look at L.E.U.’s facebook page or their web sites. The annual membership starts in July and the rides often close by early November, so it is not too early to think about it. The ride is May 10-12th each year.

Once again thank you for supporting me and also your generous support of National C.O.P.S. While attending the C.O.P.S conference in D.C. I saw Lodge 4 listed on several large banners acknowledging their support of C.O.P.S.Ride truck

Please accept this plaque from the L.E.U.-Pa board as an additional acknowledgement of the Lodge’s generosity. I have enclosed a couple of pictures from this year’s Road to Hope ride. I also am enclosing one of this year’s Beer glasses from the Chophouse restaurant near the NLEOM. I am sure someone can use it-toast to Mark, and our other fallen heroes from BaCoPD. Stay safe. and again, thank you all.

Sincerely,

Lynne Parry and family

 

 

Baltimore County Police Baseball Camp Fundraiser at Greene Turtle

The Greene Turtle in Whitemarsh is donating 20% of the total bill to help support the Baltimore County Police Department baseball camp.  If you have some free time stop by the Greene Turtle in Whitemarsh on Friday June 10, 2016 between 11am til 2am. Enjoy some food and atmosphere while helping to support a good cause.
Remember you must have the flier for the donation.

Thanks in advance.

Greene Turtle flier

Congratulations to all those being promoted today!

On May 31 at 10 a.m., nine Baltimore County police officers will be promoted. The ceremony will take place at Oregon Ridge, 13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, 21030.

Chief James Johnson will speak at the ceremony and will present the certificates. The oath of office will be administered by the Honorable Lori McComas, Manager of Court Operations. The invocation and benediction will be offered by the Reverend Darron McKinney Sr., a police chaplain.

The following is the list of the promoted officers and their new assignments:

  • Sergeant Devin J. Rill is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and is assigned to Precinct 11/Essex.
  • Corporal David J. Fuerlinger is promoted to the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 6/Towson.
  • Corporal Kathryn D. Greenbeck is promoted to the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 8/Parkville.
  • Corporal David S. Heath Jr is promoted to the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 4/Pikesville.
  • Officer Ann-Marie Collins is promoted to the rank of Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 11/Essex.
  • Officer John T. Dawson is promoted to the rank of Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 12/Dundalk.
  • Officer Jason R. Eaton is promoted to the rank of Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 2/Woodlawn.
  • Officer Gregory T. Pawelczyk is promoted to the rank of Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 1/Wilkens.
  • Officer Jason M. Sutton is promoted to the rank of Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 8/Parkville.

Class Action Grievance Deadline for Corrected Form W2’s

On April 6, 2016 the FOP filed a Class Action Grievance on behalf of our members that incurred an extra tax preparation cost for submitting amended 2015 tax returns. We have identified 271 members who received corrected Form W2’s in March because stand-by pay was not included as taxable income. We are attempting to seek reimbursement from the county for any added tax preparation cost.

We are approaching the deadline of June 1, 2016 for those who were affected to notify us of the extra cost incurred and provide a paid receipt or proof of extra payment. If you or anyone with whom you work has been affected please notify me and send any necessary documentation.

Could you please provide the following:
1. An email address that is not your Baltimore County Government address
2. The amount of any additional tax preparation to file an amended return and a copy of a receipt.
Please send your response if you incurred an extra cost or not to both Second VP Dave Rose (2vp@foplodge4.org) and he will make sure you get added to our database for the grievance.

 

Investigator, GS-1810-11/12, Job Opportunity for the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, Baltimore Office

If you know of anyone who may be interested in applying for an Investigator position in the Baltimore office, please pass the following OPM vacancy announcement on to them.  The full performance level of the position is GS-12.  This OPM job announcement 16-MD-1699668-DE is open to all U. S. Citizens and is specifically for non-status individuals, which means that applicants do not have to be federal employees to apply.  If you know of someone who has never worked for the government, but would like to, now is the time to give them our Investigator announcement located at the following OPM site:  https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/438793100  Starting Salary Between $64,650 and $77,400. See link below.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/salary-tables/pdf/2016/DCB.pdf

 

 

 

Please be aware that this announcement will close upon receipt of the 50th application or by the closing date, whichever comes first.