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ADA suit names city for pension fund exclusions.

A recent lawsuit brought by the Justice Department under the Americans with Disabilities Act, charges the state of Illinois and the city of Aurora, Ill. with excluding disabled police officers and firefighters from pension and disability funds.

Illinois state law requires most municipalities with a population of more than five thousand to set up police and fire pension funds to distribute disability and retirement benefits.

Although the pension funds come from city tax levies, the funds and the city are largely separate entities. For example, the funds can sue and be sued in their own names. Once police officers and firefighters are hired, state law requires them to make an application to their pension funds.

State law also allows the funds to conduct independent medical examinations and make independent decisions regarding participation in the fund.

In Aurora, two of the City's police officers passed physicals administered by the City which allowed them to join Aurora's police force. However, they falled separate medical examinations administered by the pension fund to determine eligibility to participate. This prompted the filing of a law suit by the Department of Justice on the grounds that the Americans With Disabilities Act makes it unlawful to deny to an individual with a disability access to a benefit plan that is otherwise provided to individuals who do not have

disabilities.

Leaders in the city of Aurora are dismayed that their community was named as a party to the suit. The City emphasizes that it did not make the decision to deny its police officers participation in the fund. Instead, such a decision was made by the pension board, as permitted by Illinois state law. Aurora's Mayor, David L. Pierce, even has testified before the Illinois State Legislature in his support of legislation that would allow police officers and firefighters who have completed their probationary periods to automatically qualify for participation in their pension funds.
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Title Annotation:Americans with Disabilities Act, Aurora, Illinois
Author:Tabin, Barrie
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 3, 1994
Words:316
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