Posts tagged with "firing"

Firing to Prevent Pension Vesting, Without More, Does Not Violate ADEA

In this economy, companies are terminating employees in an effort to increase share value or simply improve the bottom line.  Often it is the older, more senior, and more costly employees that are the first to go.  The question sometimes arises: “Can my employer fire me to prevent my pension from vesting (thereby saving itself money) without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?”  The short and surprising answer is “yes,” assuming the absence of other critical allegations necessary to sustain an ADEA claim.

A Relevant Case

In a case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a Connecticut employee alleged in his Complaint only that “he was fired by defendants because he was nearing the age of retirement.”  The lower court dismissed this claim and the appellate court affirmed because this was the only fact alleged in the Complaint as evidence of age discrimination.  The United States Supreme Court has held that the firing of an employee to prevent his pension benefits from vesting does not, without more, violate the ADEA.

What essential allegations were missing?  In order to prevail, the plaintiff had to allege facts evincing that his employer was using pension status as a proxy for age, in order to discriminate on the basis of age.  How could he do that?  One way would be to plead and prove that his pension vested due to age and not years of service.  While age and years of service are empirically connected, the Supreme Court has said that they are “analytically distinct.”  What the Complaint lacked were additional allegations supporting a claim of age discrimination, for a successful ADEA plaintiff must prove that age actually motivated the employer’s decision.

The take-away from this case is that victims of age discrimination should consult with an experienced employment law litigator to ensure that an actionable claim is properly alleged in a Complaint.  In the case referred to above, it is impossible to say whether the plaintiff would have prevailed with a more artfully crafted Complaint.  What we do know is that his bare-bones Complaint was dismissed as insufficient without ever being heard on its merits.

The employment law attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all sorts of employment-related disputes and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield in resolving such issues. Please contact our Westport office at 203-221-3100.

Former Bridgeport Officer Settles Lawsuit

BRIDGEPORT – A former Bridgeport police lieutenant who claimed he was retaliated against for investigating Mayor John M. Fabrizi and other city officials settled a lawsuit against the city.  Under the terms of the out-of-court settlement, John Brenner, who retired from the Police Department two months ago, will receive, in addition to his pension, a lump-sum payment of $10,000. The city has also agreed to pay Brenner’s legal expenses up to $10,000.

“The city denies any and all of Mr. Brenner’s allegations; however, for financial reasons we have agreed to settle the case,” said City Attorney Mark Anastasi. “It was much more cost-efficient to settle the case than to proceed with a trial.”

Brenner’s lawyer, Bryan Carmody, said his client was happy with the resolution of the case.

Background of Lawsuit

Brenner joined the Police Department on Oct. 7, 1991. On Jan. 1, 2004, then-Chief Wilbur Chapman appointed him commander of the department’s Office of Internal Affairs.

The lawsuit claims that while serving in that capacity, Brenner “aggressively pursued allegations against officers senior to himself, as well as top-level city officials, up to and including John Fabrizi.” Neither Carmody nor Anastasi would comment on any investigations Brenner performed.

“Those investigations could still be pending,” Carmody said.

“The city put no merit on any of the allegations,” Anastasi said.

The lawsuit continues that in January 2005, Brenner obtained approval from Chapman for an extended leave to train with “an elite federal agency” with the assurance that when he returned, he could resume his post as head of OIA.

Shortly after his departure, Brenner learned that several command-level officers he previously investigated warned that if he returned, he would “get it,” the suit states.

When Brenner returned from his leave in May 2005, Chapman had resigned as chief and the acting chief, Anthony Armeno, would not allow Brenner to resume his OIA job. Instead, he assigned Brenner to the patrol division.

The suit states that the transfer cost Brenner about half of what he earned as head of OIA. “We are not at all concerned about his allegations, other than his claim to certain salaries,” Anastasi said.

Connecticut Post

Is it Illegal to Decline to Hire a Qualified Candidate Because of Age in Connecticut?

Under both Connecticut and federal law, age discrimination against both employees and candidates for a job is illegal.  Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the “ADEA”), a federal statute, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone over 40 based on their age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation or benefits, or job assignments, among other things.  It is also illegal to retaliate against anyone who opposes employment practices that discriminate based on age.

If you have any questions related to sexual harassment and discrimination in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at