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EEOC Pension Assistance AppreciatedEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – June 8, 2006
In May, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began dismissing age discrimination charges filed by Duke Energy employees over the cash balance pension plan. Some employees felt let down, but the EEOC actually provided an extremely valuable service. By holding the charges open, the EEOC maintained the employees’ right to sue Duke Energy over their pension losses.
A Duke Energy employee and a retiree requested right-to-sue letters from the EEOC last year. The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 6, 2006 by Wallace and Graham, and other law firms. Our attorneys have submitted a motion for class action certification. Filing the lawsuit is what the EEOC charges were all about. So, it was pointless for all the charges to remain open indefinitely.
Each Duke Energy employee who filed an age discrimination charge against Duke Energy has been issued a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. These employees have the right to retain an attorney and sue Duke Energy in federal court. But be aware that the cost of such a suit can easily run well over a million dollars.
You can readily see the problem with individual suits. First, if each employee had a million dollars or two to spend on lawsuits, they probably would not be working for Duke Energy. Second, spending millions of dollars to potentially recoup a few hundred thousand dollars in pension losses is a losing proposition. Third, only a few law firms are equipped to successfully handle such a suit.
Read between the lines of the EEOC letter. It alludes to the lawsuit already filed by Wallace and Graham. Any attorney fees are contingent upon winning the case. Duke Energy employees can now seek pension justice without taking any financial risk. In short, the action by the EEOC was appropriate.
Former EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro put forth a valiant effort to get to the bottom of the cash balance fiasco. But when the Bush administration blew into Washington in 2000, the investigation was thwarted. G. W. Bush appointed his stooges to head the federal agencies that were created to help employees. These agencies then became mere extensions of the corporate boardrooms and worked against employees.
The many EEOC employees, dedicated to upholding the law, had zero control of the power grab. Under theses circumstances, holding the charges open was the best they could do. The Employee Advocate appreciates the efforts of Ms. Castro and the EEOC employees.
Bush Blocked From Cutting Retiree Health CareEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – March 31, 2005
The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, a federal district judge blocked a Bush administration rule allowing corporation to cut out retiree health benefits at age 65. Bush used the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to try to bring this disaster upon American workers.
The strange thing is that the EEOC was once the champion who protected employees from age discrimination. That was all before G. W. Bush came to Washington. What Bush cannot achieve through legislation, he tries to slip in via agency rules. G. W. Bush also tried to legalize age discrimination in cash balance plan through Treasury regulations.
In striking down the horrendous rule, Judge Anita B. Brody of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia, issued a permanent injunction prohibiting federal officials from enforcing it.
G. W. Bush does not like to have his schemes overruled by federal judges. Republicans are threatening to ban filibustering judge appointees, so that they can ramrod in any judge that Bush appoints.
Judge Brody wrote that the rule "is contrary to Congressional intent and the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act."
The EEOC was deluged with letters opposing the rule. But, under G. W. Bush, all opposition was ignored.
Under chairwoman and Bush shill Cari M. Dominguez, the EEOC has hit rock bottom. Under G. W. Bush, the United States has hit rock bottom.
Judge Brody said that the appeals court ruled on the matter five years ago.
Bush was once again issuing rules to overturn federal law.
Judge Brody said "An administrative agency, including the E.E.O.C., may not issue regulations, rules or exemptions that go against the intent of Congress.” She said the law "prohibits the practice of coordinating retiree benefits with Medicare eligibility."
EEOC Encourages Age DiscriminationEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – February 8, 2005
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has turned into an enemy of the workforce under the Bush administration. The EEOC is now trying to make it legal for corporations to drop health coverage for older retirees, according to Reuters.
Friday, AARP won a court order barring the EEOC from allowing companies to drop health insurance coverage when their retirees turn 65.
David Certner, of AARP, said "We took this action to protect our members and all retirees from losing their rights under the age discrimination laws."
Duke got an early start on this benefits reduction game. In 1998, Duke Energy announced plans to cut retirees health insurance at age 65. When it comes to reducing employee benefits, Duke is way ahead of the curve.
The AARP’s hands are not entirely clean. It turned to the dark side by helping Bush get the disastrous Medicare bill passed.
EEOC Sues for Age DiscriminationEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – January 15, 2005
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, charging age discrimination, according to the New York Law Journal. The EEOC alleges that the law firm forced older partners to retire. Millions of dollars in back pay hang in the balance.
John C. Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said "If there's a lesson to be learned from this case, it's that no sector of the economy, whether the factory floor or the offices of the most prestigious law firms, is exempt from the reach of the employment laws."
In 2002, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner noted that the "question is whether, when, a firm employs the latitude allowed to it by state law to reconfigure a partnership in the direction of making it a de facto corporation, a federal agency enforcing federal antidiscrimination law is compelled to treat all the 'partners' as employers."
The EEOC has been investigating Sidley Austin for age discrimination since 2000. It has been investigating Duke Energy for cash balance plan age discrimination since 1999.
Honeywell Settles Age Discrimination LawsuitEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 7, 2004
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that it filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Honeywell in 2002. Honeywell will settled the suit for $2.15 million.
AlliedSignal terminated or demoted in workers in 1997. Honeywell acquired AlliedSignal in 1999.
Six employees will get awards ranging from $475,000 to $275,000.
EEOC SelloutEmployee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – April 24, 2004
You may have noticed that since the Bush administration blew into Washington, all government agencies now support corporations. Even the agencies that were designed to protect the workforce now cater to corporations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has now sold out the retirees, according to the New York Times.
Corporations will be free to reduce or eliminate retiree health benefits at age 65. Duke Energy is way ahead of the curve on this benefit takeaway. In 1999, Duke announced that future retirees would lose all their earned and promised health coverage. Dipping into the earned retirement benefits in 1997 was not enough for Duke. Moves like this put Duke in a position to lavish more millions of dollars on retiring CEO’s. Even if they almost wrecked the company, they still get millions!
Duke has been taking away retirees’ health coverage a little at a time, through increased premiums. Originally there were no premiums to be paid. 30 years of labor paid all the premiums. Suddenly premiums were introduced. Retirees had to pay more to get what had already been earned. Then the premiums started rising each year.
This insidious rule gives corporations the green light to take away benefits from those who are already retired and receiving the health coverage. Now health benefits can be taken back all at once. The pittance that Medicare pays will be all that is left.
The vote was 3 to 1, the three Republicans were all for retirees losing their earned health care. The lone Democrat, Stuart J. Ishimaru, cast the only no vote. He said "I came to the commission as a civil rights lawyer. Before making an exemption to a major civil rights law, you need a compelling reason, which I have not seen."
Mr. Ishimaru added that the proper role of the commission is not to make health policy, but to protect people from discrimination.
The retirees now on Medicare know that its coverage is pitiful. If they have any corporate coverage, it helps pay what Medicare refuses to pay. This coverage may now vanish. The retirees have paid for the coverage with 30 or 40 years of labor. They paid for it, but may get nothing. On the other hand, corporations will now be able to double or triple the going away presents for executives!
Cari M. Dominguez, EEOC chairwoman and Bush lapdog, said "We are aware of the anxieties and misperceptions that have taken root."
It is not a “misperception” when a retiree has health coverage one day, but it vanishes the next day; he knows he has been robbed! It is not a misperception when retirement benefits are cut in half, overnight. It is blatantly obvious that foul play is afoot.
Ms. Dominguez and G. W. Bush are aware, but could not care less what happens to the retirees. They only desire to obey their corporate owners.
Such age based tinkering with benefits were ruled unlawful by a federal appeals court in 2000. If an employer provides benefits, courts have ruled that there cannot be discrimination among retirees based on age. What the corporations clearly needed was a way to evade the age discrimination law.
The EEOC claims authority to make "reasonable exemptions" to the law in the public interest. Is it reasonable to deprive millions of retirees of benefits that they have earned by decades of work? Is it reasonable that these retirees be forced to accept only the second rate coverage provided by Medicare? Some lawyers contend that the EEOC has no authority to provide exemptions to the law.
Why do corporation only have to honor agreements with CEO’s? Some of these cats get millions as a hiring bonus. Some make more millions for wrecking the company. Then they often get millions for getting terminated. Corporations always bend over backwards to see that the CEO’s get every penny possible.
Zero effort is made to ensure that employees receive what was promised to them. Quite the opposite is the case with employee benefits. The great American corporate pastime seems to be breaking as many promises to employees as possible. There actually appears to be competition among boardrooms, to see who can take the most deferred benefits from workers. Most employees have no stock options, country club memberships, or hiring and firing bonuses to take away. So the executives plunder what little the employees have: retirement and health benefits.
The Bush administration is a slick crowd, when it comes to devising ways to deprive workers of their earned benefits. They tried the very same thing in the Senate version of the Medicare bill. There was such an outcry from the public that Section 631 of the final Medicare law was deleted by Congress. What this administration cannot take by law, it tries to take through regulations.
The EEOC rule creates an explicit exemption to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The administration does not have the power to write law. But when the intent of law can be altered through backdoor methods, the net effect is the same. Employees lose earned retirement and health benefits and more millions are made available for executive perks and political contributions.
The same tactic was used in an attempt to legalize cash balance pension conversions. The Bush administration attempted to fatten the wallets of corporations through Treasury regulations. The problem was that the money would come from retirement benefits that employees had already earned.
A federal court ruled the IBM cash balance plan to be illegal. Congress went as far as forbidding the administration from issuing regulations that would nullify the court’s ruling!
Several EEOC members have voiced the platitude that corporations may continue to provide health benefits to retirees under 65, if they are allowed to cut loose those 65 and older. That is the biggest lie in the universe! Corporations use this ploy constantly to take benefits.
If you let us take benefit A, we will let you keep benefits B and C.
Before you know it they are back.
If you let us take benefit B, we will let you keep benefit C.
There is no end to this game.
If you let us take half of benefit C, we will let you keep the other half.
Employees are always asked to give up something for the promise that the corporation will not take it all. But we all know what a corporate promise made to employees is worth.
If we can drain half the blood from your body, we will let you keep the other half.
The EEOC does have a sense of humor. A preamble to the rule states that it "is not intended to encourage employers to eliminate any retiree health benefits they may currently provide."
Corporations are notorious for taking benefits from employees, even if they have to skirt the law to do it. What will they do when the rules give them an exemption from the law?
Employees Under SiegeEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 13, 2003
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made a proposal that has retirees enraged, according to the Daily Herald. Many retirees feel that the proposal will give corporations a loophole to terminate their earned and promised medical benefits.
There was a time when the EEOC looked out for the interests of employees. But now the EEOC staff works for G. W. Bush, as do the staffs of the Treasury, Labor Department, and so on! Remember, the Treasury tried to legalize age discrimination in cash balance plans, under G. W. Bush. Only a huge public outcry stopped it. The corporations own Bush, body and soul, if any.
Duke Energy has already pulled this stunt on most of the employees still working. When they turn 65 they will be thrown to Medicare. Thrown to the wolves is more appropriate. Medicare was never intended to be more than the bare minimum coverage.
You may have noticed a pattern. After working for 30 or 40 years, you do not get the pension that you were promised. After the corporations have profited from your years of labor, you will not get the health coverage that you were promised.
127,000 thousand retirees from Lucent Technologies are fighting the latest corporate scam. The Lucent Retirees Organization claims that the EEOC is discriminating against those 65 and older.
Ken Raschke, president of the Lucent Retirees Organization, said “The commission's proposed rule will ensure Medicare-eligible retirees, who currently have employer-sponsored health benefits, will lose such benefits. This is particularly egregious with respect to retirees who currently enjoy prescription drug benefits from the companies they helped build.”
The Herald article stated: “EEOC spokesman James Ryan declined comment.”
The EEOC proposed amending its Age Discrimination in Employment Act to allow this scam to take place.
There is a comment period on the proposal until September 12, 2003. Don’t miss this one!
Mr. Raschke said “It's not the job of the EEOC to make such a rule. That function belongs to Congress.”
What the Bush administration cannot accomplish by twisting the arms of Congress, it tries by twisting rules.
In a letter to the EEOC, Mr. Raschke stated: “These are the most vulnerable of our citizens, who labored for many years relying on their promised benefits from their employers. While recognizing that employers might modify those benefits under certain circumstances, most workers assuredly did not anticipate that a federal administrative agency would presume the role of the U.S. legislative and executive branches and seek to obviate their lawful protection.”
If anyone has not noticed, employees are under siege. They are under assault as assuredly as Iraq was. And, by the same perpetrators. You risk losing your earned pension, health care, and even you job (they are being shipped overseas on a daily basis). Do not fail to take action, while you still can.
Gulfstream Age Bias SettlementEEOC – www.eeoc.gov - January 2, 2003
Commission Alleges Class of Older Workers Targeted for Layoffs at Georgia Facility
(12/11/02) ATLANTA - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that a federal district court judge preliminarily approved a Consent Decree settling a class action age discrimination lawsuit filed against Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation (Gulfstream). The Consent Decree provides for $2.1 million, as well as significant injunctive and remedial relief, to 61 former employees who lost their jobs during layoffs at the company's Savannah, Georgia, facility. Gulfstream is a major employer in the aviation industry.
The EEOC's lawsuit (Civil Action No. 02-CV- 243) and the Consent Decree were concurrently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Gulfstream targeted employees 40 years of age or older for layoffs in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The layoffs occurred during the period of August 2000 through December 2000. Gulfstream denies that it engaged in any discrimination based on age, or committed any other violation of the law in connection with the reduction in force at its Savannah facility.
"We are pleased that Gulfstream has worked cooperatively with the EEOC in bringing a satisfactory resolution to this case," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "Age discrimination is the fastest growing category of EEOC charges. Today's settlement along with other recent age discrimination resolutions by the EEOC underscores the importance of ensuring that age is not used as a criterion in layoffs."
The EEOC's lawsuit was buttressed by statistical evidence showing a significant disparity in the impact of the layoffs on older workers. The Commission also identified specific instances in which older workers were laid off while younger, less senior employees were retained in identical job positions. The EEOC's Savannah Local Office conducted the underlying investigation.
In addition to the monetary relief, the Consent Decree provides for management training, reporting and posting by the company, and other injunctive and affirmative relief.
"Companies that layoff older more experienced workers in order to retain younger less senior individuals are violating the law and running the risk of being sued for discrimination," said S. Robert Royal, Regional Attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "These lawsuits can result in sizeable monetary awards against companies and damage their reputations. To its credit, Gulfstream has worked cooperatively with the EEOC in arriving at a Consent Decree that provides significant monetary and affirmative relief to the victims without the need for protracted litigation."
Bernice Williams Kimbrough, Director of the EEOC's Atlanta District Office, added: "Reductions-in force may be a necessary fact of economic life. However, employers cannot use downsizing as a means of eliminating older employees from their workforce. Productive, hard- working employees with 20 to 30 years of experience deserve better than to be pushed out the door, while younger, less experienced individuals are retained."
In addition to enforcing the ADEA, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age, the EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits gender-based wage discrimination; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.