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Equitable to pay $12.5 million in age bias suit.

An age discrimination lawsuit against the Equitable Life Assurance Society ended when a U.S. district judge approved a settlement worked out between the company and 363 former employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had also joined the plaintiffs in charging that Equitable had violated Federal age discrimination rules in 1978, when it fired the plaintiffs. At the time, Equitable had indicated that the firings were simply part of a plan to cut costs. This was contested by the plaintiffs--many of whom were more than 40 years old--who claimed that they were terminated to open promotions to younger employees. In describing the settlement, the EEOC asserted that Equitable had timed the firings to precede the January 1, 1979, effective date of an amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that extended protection to persons between age 40 and 70.

An Equitable official said that the EEOC assertions were "absolutely untrue" and that the settlement did not contain any findings of illegal conduct by the company. Continuing, the official said that Equitable "has always denied and continues to deny that it violated the law" and that it had settled only to avoid prolonged and costly court proceedings.

Under the settlement, $12.5 million--reportedly a record among for a discrimination case--will be distributed to the plaintiffs according to the financial losses they sustained. In exchange, they agreed to drop their claims against the company.
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Mar 1, 1985
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