Mandatory Retirement Age For Police Upheld

Walter Mitchell, Louis Perunko, and David Mosby were police officers with the City of Gary, Indiana. When the officers were hired, a provision of the Indiana Code required that all police officers retire no later than their 65th birthday. In 1982, the City adopted an ordinance which also required that each member of the Gary Police Department must retire on or before his or her 65th birthday. In late…

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Retirement Calculations Do Not Include Allowances

Thomas E. Fratinardo and Joseph Self, Jr. were police officers for different jurisdictions in Hawai’i. During their employment, in addition to their salaries, they received car, uniform, and firearm allowances. The car allowance was a fixed payment of $488 per month provided to police officers who were required by the employer to purchase and regularly use their private automobiles for official duty. The uniform and firearm allowances were also…

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San Diego Retirement Cuts Violate Law

Jerry Sanders, then the Mayor of the City of San Diego, announced in November 2010 that he would pursue an amendment to the City Charter to reduce pension benefits for City employees. Elimination of the defined benefit plan for new hires and its replacement with a defined contribution plan was the key feature of his proposal. Previously in his role as the City’s chief negotiator, the Mayor had negotiated…

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Standby Pay Not Pensionable In California

James Linhart was a division chief with the Livermore-Pleasanton, California Fire Department. The Department’s compensation plan provided that “Division Chiefs assigned to a standby schedule shall be compensated in an amount equal to seven and one-half percent (7.5%) of the Division Chief control point listed in Appendix A. Standby pay shall be paid biweekly.” Linhart retired in 2006, after 22 years of service, and began receiving a retirement allowance…

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Florida Supreme Court Allows Retirement Reductions That Impact Current Employees

In 2011, the Florida Legislature changed the Florida Retirement System in two substantial ways. The System had been non-contributory for members, with employers paying the entire retirement contribution. The Legislature required all current members to contribute 3% of their salaries to the retirement system. The second change enacted by the Legislature was to eliminate a 3.0% cost of living adjustment for retirees. Both changes applied only to service after…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision On Post-Retirement Health Insurance

The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association are parties to a contract that contains retiree and active employee health care provisions. On July 1, 2004, the City modified the health insurance plan provided to members and retirees. The Association filed a grievance with respect to the modified plan, alleging that the modified plan violated the contract. In 2008, an arbitrator issued an award finding that the…

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Police Retirees Have No Rights To ‘Demutualization” Proceeds

In 1951, Prudential issued a group life insurance policy to the Port Authority Of New York and New Jersey for the benefit of its employees. Each of the Port Authority’s unions (the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, Inc., Port Authority Police Detectives Endowment Association, Port Authority Police Sergeants Benevolent Association, and the Port Authority Police Lieutenants Benevolent Association) negotiated a life insurance benefit for its employees, the terms of…

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Retiree Health Settlement Approved By Court

The City of Omaha, Nebraska suffers from difficult long-term financial prospects impacted in part by the rising cost of healthcare benefits for various active and retired City employees. Before May 18, 2010, an assortment of collective bargaining agreements and ordinances required the City to offer 34 different benefit plans to active and retired employees. Under those plans, 84% of retirees paid no premium for healthcare coverage for themselves or…

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Acceptance Of Retirement Does Not Reduce Back Pay

On February 2, 2010, Sell Caldwell’s employment as a captain with the DeKalb County, Georgia Fire Rescue Department was terminated based on allegations that Caldwell (1) failed to locate the dispatch address in the course of responding to a fire; and (2) failed to take command of the scene of a fire. Caldwell appealed his termination to the County’s Human Resources and Merit System Department. On February 11, 2010,…

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City Must Arbitrate Grievance Over Retirement Benefits

The City of Portland, Oregon has had a pension fund for police and fire employees for many years. In 2006, following public criticism of the Fund and its board, the City’s voters approved a ballot measure that, among other things, would restructure the Fund’s board and require new employees to become members of the statewide PERS system. After the election, the new Fund board determined that the Fund’s administrator…

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Officer’s Criminal Convictions For Accessing Other Officers’ Computer Records May Result In Pension Forfeiture

On October 26, 2006, Edward Bettencourt, a former member of the Peabody, Massachusetts Police Department, was convicted of 21 counts of accessing an unauthorized computer system. The same day, Bettencourt filed an application for retirement with the Peabody Retirement Board. After a hearing, the Board issued a decision approving Bettencourt’s retirement, ruling that his convictions did not violate a state law calling for pension forfeiture if an officer engages…

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Retiree Health Care Grievance Is Arbitrable

The collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Orchard Park, New York and the Orchard Park Police Benevolent Association calls for the Town to provide some retiree health care benefits. When the Town announced it intended to change retiree health care benefits, the Association filed a grievance on behalf of affected retired members protesting the change in coverage, and sought to enjoin the Town from changing the coverage pending…

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Under Contract, Retiree Health Benefits Can Be Tied to Those Provided Active Employees

For more than 20 years and over the span of approximately 60 collective bargaining agreements, the City of Duluth entered into language calling for the provision of retiree health care coverage to its police officers, firefighters, and other employees. Two contract clauses cover the issue of retiree health care. The first clause, which nominally covered only active employees, provided that retirees “shall receive hospital-medical insurance coverage to the same…

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City Not Allowed To Cut Retiree Medical Benefits For Firefighters

The collective bargaining agreement between Local 732 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the City of Woonsocket, Rhode Island requires the City to provide retiree medical insurance. When the City canceled the health insurance for seven retirees on the grounds that they had health insurance provided through other sources, Local 732 filed a grievance. An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator recognized the City’s ability to terminate…

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Promises From Town Officials Cannot Alter Retirement Benefits

Stephen Ferrucci was hired in 1974 as a police officer with the Town of Middlebury, Connecticut. In 1988, at the age of 38, Ferrucci retired in order to take a job with the Service Employees International Union. In 1995, seven years after he terminated his employment with the Town, Ferrucci spoke with the Town’s finance director about his retirement benefits. The finance director spoke with the Town’s actuary, and…

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City Can Change Mistaken Practice Of Fully Reimbursing Medical Expenses of Retired Firefighters, Police Officers

A group of 33 retired firefighters and police officers previously employed by the City of Warwick, Rhode Island brought a lawsuit against the City, contending that the City had wrongfully stopped the practice of fully reimbursing them for their medical expenses. At various points over the past three decades, each of the retirees sustained a debilitating injury in the line of duty, resulting in a grant of disability leave…

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Comprehensive ‘Status Quo’ Opinion From Florida Court

The collective bargaining agreements between the City of Gainesville, Florida and the labor unions representing police, fire, and other employees do not discuss health insurance benefits for retirees. Until 1995, the City paid 100% of retirees’ health insurance premiums for individual coverage including all premium increases occurring after retirement. In 1995, the City reduced the percentage, but continued to pay a fixed percentage of retirees’ insurance premiums, including the…

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California Court Orders Disclosure Of Retiree Names, Pension Amounts

The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility (CFFR) filed a public records request with the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, seeking the disclosure of the names of retirees who in any month in 2010 received $8,333 or more in pension benefits, the pension amounts, and how they were calculated. The Association argued that the records were exempt from disclosure because on balance the interests of retirees in privacy outweighed…

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Officer’s Time As Teacher Does Not Count Towards Police Retirement

Charles Loftus became a member of the Arizona State University Public Safety Personnel Retirement System when he was hired in 1986 as a police officer for Arizona State University. In the fall of 2005, ASU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology hired Loftus as a faculty associate to teach certain courses. Loftus’s employment as a faculty associate was dependent on sufficient enrollment for each course and other needs of…

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Officer’s Time As Teacher Does Not Count Towards Police Retirement

Charles Loftus became a member of the Arizona State University Public Safety Personnel Retirement System when he was hired in 1986 as a police officer for Arizona State University. In the fall of 2005, ASU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology hired Loftus as a faculty associate to teach certain courses. Loftus’s employment as a faculty associate was dependent on sufficient enrollment for each course and other needs of…

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California County Pension Amounts Not Shielded From Disclosure

California’s County Employees Retirement Law provides: “Sworn statements and individual records of members shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed to anyone except insofar as may be necessary for the administration of this chapter or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or upon written authorization by the member.” When the Sacramento Bee newspaper requested the pension benefits of all Sacramento County retirees receiving more than $100,000…

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As Long As Benefit Levels Protected, City Allowed To Merge Police And General Employee Pension Plans

Since approximately 1942, the City of Minot, North Dakota has maintained separate police and City employee pension plans and funds. City ordinances set out the terms of each pension plan. In 1972, the City adopted a home rule charter and began operating as a “home rule” city. In 2004, the Minot City Council decided to contribute at equal rates to the police and City employee pension funds. Three years…

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Chief Required To Repay $174k In Retirement Benefits

Gary Walker was employed as a police officer with the City of Eden, North Carolina, from 1968 until his retirement on April 1, 1994. During his employment, Walker was a member of the North Carolina Local Government Employees Retirement System (LGERS). Upon his retirement, Walker began receiving monthly retirement benefits. Walker was subsequently recruited to work as a police officer for the Town of Stoneville, North Carolina. The Town…

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Lieutenant Does Not Forfeit Pension For Illegally Accessing Civil Service Files

A Massachusetts state statute calls for the forfeiture of a public employee’s pension “after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position.” Edward Bettencourt was a lieutenant with the Peabody, Massachusetts Police Department. On Christmas Day, 2004, while on duty as watch commander, Bettencourt used an office computer to access the Massachusetts Human Resources Division Applicant Record Information site in…

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DROP Plan Does Not Violate State Pension Law

The Borough of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania and the Ellwood City Police Department Wage and Policy Committee (Union) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement gave the parties 180 days to negotiate a Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP. When no agreement on the terms of a DROP was reached, the Union referred the matter to arbitration. An arbitration board issued an award directing the Borough to modify…

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