Amityville Fire Department settles age bias lawsuit

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in Employment Law

A group of volunteer firefighters for the Amityville Fire Department will share $209,280 after they settled a lawsuit alleging discrimination in the way cash bonuses were handed out.

Although the firefighters are volunteers, Amityville provides a “length of service award” to long-time volunteers. It traditionally tracked volunteers’ years of service until they reached age 65 and issued cash “benefits” payments based on tenure.

Several older firefighters filed an EEOC complaint claiming the system discriminated against them. Attempts at reconciliation failed and the EEOC filed suit in federal court. Rather than fight the litigation, the fire department settled with the volunteers.

In addition to the money, plan administrators agreed to eliminate the age 65 cutoff and will restore credits to 23 firefighters who lost benefits because of the rule.

In a similar settlement, the Long Island community of Brentwood agreed to a $465,000 agreement with its volunteer firemen.

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