FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For Information Contact:
A. J. (Jim) Norby Bill Kadereit Ed Beltram
760-200-9867 214-725-5289 719-687-6157
Retiree Leader Says Appeals Court’s Decision
Marks Dark Day For America’s Older Retirees
Third Circuit Court of Appeals Supports EEOC’s Rule Allowing Employers To Reduce Health Benefits For Retirees When They Go On Medicare
WASHINGTON (June 11, 2007) – The leader of the National Retirees Legislative Network (NRLN) said Monday that the decision by a federal appeals court allowing employers to reduce health benefits for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare marks a dark day for America’s older citizens.
“It was indeed a dark day for older retirees when three judges on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided that it is permissible for companies to discriminate against their retirees because they have become eligible for Medicare,” said A. J. (Jim) Norby, NRLN president. “Furthermore, retirees are being punished by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency created to prevent discrimination, including age discrimination.”
The unanimous decision by the Philadelphia-based court ruled on June 4 that the EEOC has the legal authority to create a regulation that would exempt employer coordination of retirement benefits with Medicare benefits from the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC had issued the early retiree health benefits exemption regulation in 2004. The AARP had filed a lawsuit challenging the EEOC’s rule.
“The NRLN commends the AARP for its gallant fight for the rights of older retirees through this case and we encourage the organization to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Norby said. “We agree with the AARP’s position that this decision lets agencies disregard the intent of Congress and blow a hole in the statute.”
Norby maintains that Jane Restani, who wrote the opinion for the appeals court, bought into a false premise that rather than maintaining retiree benefits at pre-Medicate eligibility levels for all retirees in order to avoid discrimination under ADEA, that employers would choose to reduce all retiree health benefits to a lower level.
“I say baloney to the EEOC’s claim that allowing employers to pay more for early retiree health benefits is a ‘reasonable, necessary and proper exercise of authority,’” Norby said. “It is outright age discrimination against the older retirees who are less likely to be able to afford the cost of healthcare insurance to supplement Medicare.”
Based in Washington, D.C., the NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in the private and public sector. The NRLN represents a non-partisan, grass roots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of some two million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and healthcare benefits. For more information, visit the NRLN Web site at http://www.nrln.org.