Monday, May 2, 2011

AG Rejects Age-Discrimination Complaints; Pima County Retirees Fight On

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2011 at 10:20 AM

On Friday, April 29, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry issued a memorandum to the Pima County Board of Supervisors letting them know an age-discrimination investigation by the state Attorney General's Civil Rights Division determined there was not enough evidence to conclude that the county's decision last year to end retiree insurance benefits was discriminatory.

Read Huckelberry's full memo here: pima_retirees.pdf

From Huckelberry:

Regarding the allegations in the cases before the US Equal Opportunity Commission, those employees listed in the attachment have been notified that, "Based on its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information contained establishes violation of statutes."

In the cases of the early retirees who filed discrimination complaints with the State, the determination has been made that, "Based upon its investigation the Civil Rights Division has concluded that the information obtained is not sufficient to establish violations of the statutes and has determined that further investigation is unlikely to produce such evidence."

Mike Humphrey, a Pima County retiree who has led the charge to get the county to restore the insurance coverage for early retirees, told the Weekly last night that the Pima County Retirees Association, which was formed to address this issue, has not met formally to discuss the news.

"The letter I received from the Attorney General's office didn't say that the county didn’t do anything wrong, but that there wasn't enough evidence for them to make a decision," Humphrey said.

While he can't speak for other retirees, Humphrey says he's going to file an appeal, especially because new information has come to light since the AG's office interviewed retirees and county officials in March.

"We know the county has a $73 million surplus. We know that Maricopa County did apply for federal funds to help, and that county does provide insurance (to its retirees). I still believe that every reason Huckelberry gave the board has been debunked or seriously questioned," Humphrey said.

"We’re definitely not done with this, but we knew when we filed we had a 50-50 chance, yet we can’t afford to stop. The impact continues. There are more and more employees in Pima County who can’t retire and are stuck, because they can't afford health care."

Humphrey said the issue is now political, and the retirees have discussed challenging all the supervisors—all Democrats—who voted in support of the insurance change.

"We will look for people to run, people who support retirees," he said. "The county has had many opportunities to fix this, and they’ve chosen not to. We have to keep on looking at other avenues and ways pressure them and hope a new board can make a change."

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