Settlement Agreement Approved In Manhattan Federal Court In Pension Class Action Lawsuit Brought Against The City Of New York And NYPD
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that after a fairness hearing on January 13, 2014, United States District Judge Richard J. Sullivan has approved the proposed Settlement Agreement entered into between the United States Attorney’s Office and the City of New York (the “City”), resolving the issues raised in the August 2012 class action lawsuit brought against the City in Manhattan federal court. The suit concerns the City’s illegal calculation of pensionable earnings, in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), of retired New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers who were called up to active military service since September 11, 2001, and are collecting a pension from the City (“NYPD Class Members”).
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “This Settlement Agreement will ensure that the brave men and women at all the City agencies who served both their city and their country get the pension that they have earned. Now we can turn to implementing the Settlement Agreement, which will require continued coordination between the City and this Office to put into effect these critically important changes.”
According to the Amended Complaint and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
On August 2, 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a class action lawsuit against the City, the NYPD, and the New York City Police Pension Fund, on behalf of all current and retired NYPD officers who have performed active military service since September 11, 2001, or who will do so in the future. The class action suit alleges that the City unlawfully calculates the pensionable earnings of NYPD officers called to active military duty by relying exclusively on their base pay rate, instead of including the overtime or night shift differential compensation they would have earned had they not been on active military duty, as required by USERRA. As a result, service members are being deprived of pension benefits they would have been reasonably likely to receive but for their military service.
The class action lawsuit sought to require the City to lawfully calculate the pensionable earnings of all current and former NYPD officers who were called to perform active military service after September 11, 2001, or who will be called to service, to recalculate the pension benefits they are currently receiving, and to remit any additional pension benefits owed as a result of performing these recalculations.
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On July 2, 2013, the Court preliminarily approved the Settlement Agreement, and ordered that notice be given to the approximately 630 potential members of the class. Following a four-month period in which potential class members had an opportunity to submit objections to the Settlement Agreement, the Court found on January 14, 2014, that there were no objections that warrant withholding approval of the Settlement Agreement, and, by orders dated January 14 and 21, 2014, the Court approved the Settlement and closed the case.
The Settlement Agreement provides the following relief:
- All NYPD Class Members will receive the past pension benefits that they are entitled to under USERRA as well as have their future pension benefit payments adjusted to reflect any increase that results from the recalculation of their pension benefits.
- All active NYPD officers who have been or will be called up to active military service will have their future pensionable earnings calculated in accordance with USERRA, and can request in writing to have their past pensionable earnings recalculated.
- The City will implement the terms of the Settlement Agreement in the other retirement systems so that all other municipal workers will have their pensions appropriately calculated.
More information can be obtained by calling the civil rights hotline number at (212) 637-0840, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Tara M. La Morte and Arastu K. Chaudhury are in charge of the case.