Tempe Elementary School District to Pay $148,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

PHOENIX – Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 will pay $148,092 and furnish other relief to settlean age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the school district utilized an early retirement incentive plan and a normal retirement plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based solely on their age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As a result of the EEOC’s investigation and litigation, the school district recently revised its retirement plans to comply with the ADEA. The agency obtained all the actual damages it sought, together with interest. The school district agreed to pay employees who retired after April 3, 2008 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.

In addition to the monetary payments totaling $148,092 to 49 class members, the consent decree entered by the court today requires anti-discrimination training for all employees and review of all policies and practices to ensure a work environment free from age discrimination. The decree also orders that the school district shall not reinstate the unlawful policy or adopt policies that violate the ADEA.

“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.”

Rayford O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts, including discrimin­ation based on age.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).