Judge rules that Balt. Co. pension system discriminates based on age

By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

1:51 PM EDT, October 22, 2012

A federal judge has ruled that Baltimore County’s pension system discriminates against beneficiaries because older workers were required to pay more toward their retirement than younger workers.

U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg sided with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, finding that the county system violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The EEOC, which announced the decision today, sued the county in 2007 on behalf of two retired corrections officers. At the time, the plan covered 9,500 active employees and 6,600 retirees.

The county changed its pension system in 2007 so that workers hired after July 1, 2007 contributed to the retirement system at a flat rate not based on their age at hiring. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of employees hired before that date.

Damages have not yet been determined in the case, said Maria Salacuse, supervisory trial attorney with the EEOC’s Baltimore office.

In 2009, the court ruled in favor of the county, but the EEOC appealed.

A county spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a statement, EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence said the county provided no financial justification for the practice.

“Older employees felt the impact of this discrimination in every paycheck,” she said. “Because more money is taken out of older employees’ paychecks to fund their retirement benefits, they receive less pay than younger employees doing the same job. With the court’s decision, we are putting an end to this unlawful practice.”

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