Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Proposed Settlement Agreement In Pension Benefits Class Action Lawsuit Against The City Of New York
Proposed Settlement Agreement Would Ensure Pension Benefits Are Appropriately Calculated for All Municipal Workers Who Have Performed Active Military Service Since September 11, 2001
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States Attorney’s Office and the City of New York (the “City”) have entered into a settlement agreement (the “Proposed Settlement Agreement”) that, if approved by the Court, would resolve the issues raised in the class action lawsuit brought under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) alleging unlawful calculation of the pensionable earnings of New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers who have performed active military service since September 11, 2001.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The Proposed Settlement Agreement is an important step forward in the process of ensuring that the brave men and women who unselfishly serve both their city and their country receive the pensions they have earned, will earn, and to which they are entitled. Under the law, these dedicated public servants should not be penalized with a reduction in pension benefits for fulfilling a service to their nation. This Office believes that the Proposed Settlement Agreement achieves the best possible result not only for NYPD officers, but for all employees of the City who have chosen or may in the future choose to devote themselves to military service, and we commend the City for reaching an agreement.”
According to the Amended Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
The United States filed the class action lawsuit on August 2, 2012 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 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 lawsuit came in the form of an amended Complaint to three separate lawsuits previously filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of David Goodman, Michael Doherty, and Robert Black, three NYPD officers who were called to active military service during the time they worked for the NYPD, and whose pension benefits were unlawfully calculated. In the course of discovery in these matters, the Government learned that approximately 1,500 officers were called to active military service since September 11, 2001. The United States then moved to amend Goodman’s complaint to raise allegations on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals. On July 30, 2012, The Honorable Richard J. Sullivan ruled that Goodman could amend his complaint to assert a class action lawsuit against the City.
In addition to the NYPD, the Proposed Settlement Agreement encompasses all municipal workers who have performed active military service since September 11, 2011. The Proposed Settlement Agreement provides the following relief:
- All retired NYPD officers who are members of the proposed class 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.
- All active NYPD officers who have been, or will be, called 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 Proposed Settlement Agreement in all of the City’s other retirement systems so that every qualified municipal worker will have his or her pensionable earnings appropriately calculated under the law.
The Court must approve the Proposed Settlement Agreement in order for it to take effect.
The Proposed Settlement Agreement has been filed with the Court as part of the plaintiffs’ motion requesting that the Court conditionally certify a class of relevant retired NYPD officers; approve the Proposed Settlement Agreement and the forms of class notice to be sent to the NYPD Class Members notifying them of the settlement and of their other rights with respect to the class action; and set a date for a hearing on the fairness of the Proposed Settlement Agreement.
The Proposed Settlement Agreement can be found on the website of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York at http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/June13/USERRASettlementAgreement.php. More information can also 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.