Baltimore County pension rules that charge some employees different rates are discriminatory, according to a ruling by a federal judge.
U.S District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg ruled that pension rules requiring different contribution rates from employees based on age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which brought the suit in 2007, announced the decision Monday afternoon. The federal commission brought the suit on behalf of two county Department of Corrections employees.
The county made changes to its pension system in July 2007.
Employees hired after that date contributed to their pensions at a flat rate regardless of their age at the time of their hiring. Employees hired before that date paid into the system at a rate based on their age.
"Two employees with the same number of years until retirement eligibility—that is, the same pension status—do not necessarily contribute at the same rate," Legg wrote in his 10-page ruling. "Pension status, therefore, cannot be the driving factor behind the disparate treatment, which is directly linked to an employee’s age. As such, because age is the 'but-for' cause of the disparate treatment, the ERS violates the [Age Discrimination in Employment Act]."
At the time the lawsuit was filed, there were about 9,500 active and 6,600 retired employees in the Baltimore County Employees Retirement System.
The ruling does not establish the amount of damages.
Don Mohler, a county spokesman was not immediately available for comment.