Court finds absence of discrimination in Early Retirement incentive: Loucks v. Middle Country School District No.11

The ADEA states that it is “unlawful for an employer . . . to discharge an individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1) (2006). However, the plaintiff must present direct evidence of discriminatory treatment based on his age.
In the case Loucks v. Middle Country School District No.11, plaintiff Loucks was an employee of the the Board of Education of Middle County School District No. 11 from 1970-1996. She sued the School District, alleging discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (the “ADEA”).
Loucks alleged that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the School District and the Middle County Teachers Association (“MCTA”) discriminates against her based on her age. In particular, Loucks was eligible for an early retirement incentive package in 1993 at 55 years’ old, but declined the incentive and continued to work until she retired in 1996. She claimed the retirement incentive discriminates against her on account of her age because the District pays only 50% of her health insurance benefits, while it pays 100% for those employees who opted to take the incentive.
The court granted summary judgment to the defendant, holding that the undisputed terms of the collective bargaining agreement’s early retirement plan demonstrate that the plan offers an actual financial incentive to retire early, and that the incentive falls within the safe harbor provision of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 623(f)(2)(B)(ii). The Court, pursuant to the safe harbor provision, holds that this retirement incentive is consistent with the relevant purpose of the ADEA and does not arbitrarily discriminate based on age.
The retirement incentive at issue in this case, the court finds constitutes a permissible early retirement incentive plan within the meaning of the safe ,the court finds harbor provision of the ADEA.