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The Coatesville Area School District in Pennsylvania has agreed to pay more than $475,000 to settle an age discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that said the district’s early-retirement incentives were illegally structured to pay less to older teachers. According to the suit, Coatesville’s early-retirement bonuses were structured on a sliding scale that paid increasingly smaller amounts as workers neared the traditional retirement age. In a consent decree, the district promised to abandon the policy and to compensate 75 teachers who retired between January 1997 and December 2000 and received reduced benefits. EEOC senior trial attorney Mary M. Tiernan filed the suit along with Philadelphia EEOC regional attorney Jacqueline McNair and supervisory trial attorney Judith A. O’Boyle. The consent decree was signed by the school district’s attorneys, William Huganir of West Chester, Pa., and John M. West of Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, D.C. Attorney Lynne L. Wilson of the Pennsylvania State Education Association signed on behalf of the Coatesville Area Teachers’ Association. The proposed settlement has not yet been approved by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno. According to court papers, the 75 teachers will receive sums ranging from $349 to $15,361. The consent decree says the school district promises not to establish a plan that “reduces, limits, or eliminates cash-based benefits under early-retirement incentive plans on the basis of age.” The district promises to provide by the end of the year all of its managerial employees with at least three hours of training on an employer’s legal obligations under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, with an emphasis on ensuring that no employee is retaliated against for exercising his or her rights under the law. The teachers’ union also promised to advise other local unions around the state about the case and to urge them not to enter into agreements that reduce or eliminate early-retirement incentives on the basis of age.

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