Four more New York volunteer fire departments have settled age discrimination claims with the EEOC over their LOSAP programs. That makes at least 10 separate age discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC against New York volunteer fire departments since 2006.
The four departments are the East Amherst Fire Protection District and Fire Department, the Clarence Center Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Company; Harris Hill Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Company; and Swormville Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Company.
The four departments, their respective fire districts, and the town of Clarence agreed to pay $441,000 to eligible retired members, or their beneficiaries. According to Town Supervisor Scott A. Bylewski, the town began the LOSAP in compliance with a state law “unaware that several years later the EEOC would assert that this requirement of the state law was in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act.”
Bylewski said it was “unfortunate that the EEOC has elected to pursue a litigation strategy that targets local towns and villages who were simply trying to comply with a state law.” However, according to the EEOC’s press release: “The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Civ. No. 1:11-CV-00286, on March 30 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement, following an investigation by the EEOC’s Buffalo Local Office.”
The press release further explains:
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that the town and the fire departments refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 62 accrue service credit under their “Length of Service Award Programs” or “LOSAPs,” the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age. The suit further charged that the East Amherst Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Company prohibited volunteer firefighters over the age 55 from accruing credit. As a result, the senior firefighters kept working but did not receive credit for their service once they reached the maximum age. The EEOC said this age restriction constituted a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal law that protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination.