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EEOC proposes age-bias exemption for retiree health plans

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

In an effort to stem the tide of companies discontinuing health benefits to retirees, the EEOC has proposed ex-empting retiree health plans from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Background: A 2000 circuit court ruling said a county government violated the ADEA by offering benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees that were inferior to benefits offered to younger employees. (Erie County Retirees Asso-ciation v. County of Erie, 220 F.3d 193, 3rd Cir., 2000) The proposed EEOC exemption would void this court ruling.

Relatively few employers offer retiree medical benefits. In 2001, about one-third of large employers and fewer than 10 percent of small employers offered retiree plans. Still, the issue is a political hot button.

You can comment on the EEOC proposal until Sept. 12. After that, the EEOC will draft the final regulation. For more details, go to www.eeoc.gov/regs.

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