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Employment & Labor Law for Public Safety Agencies


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Pensions

      Current and former federal employees assigned to work in non-foreign areas outside of the contiguous U.S. received, in addition to their normal salaries certain cost-of-living allowances (COLAs). They sued, complaining that regulations excluded those COLAs from the formula used to calculate their retirement and other employee benefits. They claimed that this exclusion was discriminatory under Title VII, as well as arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to legal requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act. Upholding the dismissal of the lawsuit, a federal appeals court found that the trial court was correct in concluding that the disparate impact argument raised by the plaintiffs was foreclosed by the location-based safe harbor provision of 24 U.S.C. 2000e-2(h). Further, they did not properly exhaust their administrative remedies on their disparate treatment claims. Other, non-discrimination, claims were barred by the Civil Service Reform Act. Rodriguez v. United States, #15-2178, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 5235, 129 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1857, 41 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 1706 (1st Cir.). 
    Prior to 2013, the surviving spouse of a member of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund could receive benefits after the member died without incurring a proportional reduction in the member’s lifetime benefits. In 2012, the city removed this “default death benefit” for members not eligible to retire as of January 1, 2013. A former police chief was not eligible to retire on that date and opted for a five-percent reduction in current, lifetime benefits so that his wife could receive an additional benefit upon his death. He then sued, asserting claims that the change violated the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, constitutional due process, the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the Law of the Land Clause of the Tennessee state Constitution. He also asserted that the 2013 amendment was not enacted in a valid manner under local law. A federal appeals court upheld the rejection of all of these claims. The plaintiff did not have either a contract or property right to the default death benefit. His other claims were also meritless. Dodd v. City of Chattanooga, #16-5470, 846 F.3d 180 (6th Cir. 2017).
     Back in 1980, a city added a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to its Fire and Police Pension Fund. In 2014, after having previously created a fixed annual 3% increase in retirement benefits, the city amended the COLA to a lower, variable annual increase. Participants in the fund challenged this change, claiming that it was a violation of the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, depriving them of the expected higher COLA. Upholding the dismissal of this claim, a federal appeals court ruled that there was no unmistakable evidence of the city’s intent to be bound to the fixed COLA, because the COLA was neither vested nor accrued within the meaning of the City Code. In the absence of some clear indication that the legislature intends to bind itself contractually, a statute does not create a contractual relationship. The fact that the Fund described the fixed three-percent COLA as “guaranteed” when enacting a 2000 amendment did not prove that the city intended to be bound to the fixed COLA. Frazier v. City of Chattanooga, #15-6405, 841 F.3d 433 (6th Cir. 2016).
     A provision of the Illinois state Constitution provides that "Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired." The state legislature passed a law reducing certain pension benefits provided by four City of Chicago employee pension plans, based on the fact that contributions from employees and the city were inadequate to provide the promised benefits. The Illinois Supreme Court declared that law unconstitutional and unenforceable in violation of the state constitutional pension provision. Jones v. Mun. Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund, #119618, 2016 IL 119618, 2016 Ill. Lexis 276.
     Former police officers and firefighters who had been employed by local public agencies contended that the California Public Employees' Retirement System should be paying them additional enhanced retirement benefits under the Public Employees' Retirement Law, Gov. Code section 2000 et seq., based on either additional retirement service credit they had purchased or military service credit. They were denied the extra benefits because they received disability retirement benefits before age 50. An intermediate California appeals court rejected most of their claims, finding that neither the statute nor their contracts entitled them to the additional retirement benefits they sought. The court also rejected constitutional claims for violation of due process or equal protection. But the court allowed claims to go forward for rescission and breach of fiduciary duty, based on the plaintiffs' assertion that the defendant retirement system improperly failed to disclose the potential loss of the value of purchased service credit if plaintiffs suffered disability, Marzec v. CalPERS, #B246667, 236 Cal. App. 4th 889, 2015 Cal. App. Lexis 393.
    A former employee of a Sheriff's Department was entitled to receive a disability pension of half his prior salary. Based on his 34 years of service, he was receiving an additional amount increasing his pension to the amount he would have received as a service pension. The IRS rejected his argument that the entire amount of his retirement allowance should be regarded as excluded from taxation because it was a workers' compensation program. The Tax Court and a federal appeals court held that the additional amount of his retirement allowance exceeding what he would have received based solely on his disability was taxable. The additional amounts were not paid on the basis of his injuries, but solely on the basis of his years of service, and therefore were taxable. Sewards v. CIR, #12-72985, , 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 7821 (9th Cir.).
     The state of Illinois has five separate state-funded retirement systems for various public employees, all providing traditional defined benefit plans that were covered by a pension protection clause in the state constitution. The state legislature enacted amendments to the state pension code that lowered the amount of retirement annuity benefits for persons who first became members of four of those retirement systems before January 1, 2011. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a ruling that the amendments violated the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution and therefore should be permanently enjoined. The court commented that it recognized the financial difficulties which state government had recently been facing but that those difficulties did not alter preexisting pension obligations. In re Pension Reform Litig., #118585, 2015 IL 118585, 2015 Ill. Lexis 499.
     A number of retired D.C. Metropolitan police officers were later rehired by the D. C. Protective Services Division, an agency charged with protecting D.C. owned property and government buildings. They received salaries for their new jobs and pension benefits from their former jobs. A provision of the D.C. statutes, however, aimed at preventing so-called "double dipping," required that their current salaries be reduced by the amount of their pensions. A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that the salary reductions did not violate the Public Salary Tax Act of 939, 4 U.S.C. 111(a), a statute that only permitted states or D.C. to "tax" compensation paid to federal employees if that tax did not discriminate against federal employees. The court ruled that the salary reduction provision was not a "tax" but instead reduced D.C.'s total expenditure on salaries. The amount of the reduction was not collected through normal taxation mechanisms and did not raise revenue, but only lower expenditures. Cannon v. Dist. of Columbia, #14-7014, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 6320 (D.C. Cir.).
     Two county employees sought a mandamus order requiring the county employees' retirement association to allow them to buy retirement service credit for military service as midshipmen at the U.S. Navy Academy. The state intermediate appeals court ordered the order issued. It ruled that the terms "public service" and "military service" in the county's employee retirement law included such service at the Academy, and that the employees were entitled under state law to purchase such retirement service credits. Lanquist v. Ventura County Employees' Retirement Association, #B251179, 2015 Cal. App. Lexis 239.
     San Francisco city and county voters passed a ballot initiative under which the payment of supplemental cost of living allowance (COLA) to retired city and county employees on the retirement fund being fully funded based on the market value of the assets for the prior year. A political action committee representing the retired city employees' interests sought to invalidate that initiative as an illegal impairment of vested contractual rights in violation of the U.S. and California Constitution's contract clauses. An intermediate state appeals court ruled that the full funding requirement could not be enforced as to current city employees and those who retired after the supplemental cost of living allowance went into effect in November, 1996 pursuant to an earlier initiative. However, city employees who retired before that date had no vested contractual rights to the supplemental COLA payments, so the initiative could be applied to their pensions. Protect Our Benefits v. City and County of San Francisco, #A140095, 2015 Cal. App. Lexis 269.
     A Wisconsin county paid pensions to its retired employees that were calculated by multiplying their final salary by a percentage known as a multiplier and then multiplying the result by the employee's years of service. An ordinance passed in 2011 reduced the multiplier to 1.6 percent from 2 percent for all county service performed on or after its effective date. A county employee and her union claimed that this was a breach of contract because she had a vested right to have the higher multiplier applied to her post-2011 service, and that she did not consent to the reduction. The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected these arguments, because the amended ordinance only applied to future service credits not yet earned, and any benefits already accrued were protected and not diminished. Suzanne Stoker v. Milwaukee County, #2012AP2466, 2014 WI 130, 2014 Wisc. Lexis 950.
     Public employees in South Carolina challenged the constitutionality of a law amending state retirement laws by mandating that public employees who retire and then return to work have to make the same pension fund contributions as other employees, but without receiving increased pension benefits. A federal appeals court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that claims they made under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment were exempt from the protection of Eleventh Amendment immunity. The state's pension plan and the retirement system trust were arms of the state entitled to sovereign immunity as were state officials sued in their official capacities for repayment of the additional pension plan contributions. The state officials who were sued in their official capacities for injunctive relief concerning the pension plan contributions were also entitled to sovereign immunity since their duties had no relation to the collection of the contributions. Hutto v. SC Retirement System, #13-1523, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 22931 (4th Cir.).
     A class of city firefighters challenged the increase in their pension contribution from 6% to 8.5%, arguing that this impaired the terms of their employment contracts in violation of the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution and a provision of the Alabama state Constitution. A federal appeals court rejected these claims. The city essentially did nothing different from what a private employer did. It was free to alter the contribution rate without "constitutional consequences." Even if there was a contract provision not to raise the employee contribution rate, that did not amount to a constitutional claim, but merely a breach of contract.
Taylor v. City of Gadsden, #13-13885, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 17740, 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 432 (11th Cir.).
     A federal appeals court rejected a claim by active and retired city police and firefighters challenging a city's alteration of the way in which annual pension benefit increases were calculated. They argued that substituting a cost-of-living adjustment for a "variable benefit" violated their rights under the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A federal appeals court rejected this claim, holding that the plaintiffs' contract rights were not "impaired" since they had a potential state law remedy for breach of contract. The appeals court remanded a claim under the Takings Clause of the Constitution, however, as the trial court had failed to address the substance of that claim. Cherry, Jr. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City, #13-1007, 762 F.3d 366 (4th Cir. 2014).
     A retired Chicago police officer who served as the supervisor of the department's violent crimes unit was granted pension benefits in 1997. A later federal civil rights lawsuit claimed that officers under his command had engaged in torture and abuse of criminal suspects. He denied, under oath, having any knowledge of, or participation in torturing or abusing suspects in custody. He was later convicted of federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for this testimony, and given a sentence of four and a half years in prison. He was not indicted for conduct that occurred while he was serving in the police department. He argued that his pension benefits should continue, as a statute provided only that no benefits be paid following a felony conviction for conduct relating to or arising out of or in connection with his service as a policeman. His conviction, he asserted, was solely for the giving of false testimony in a civil lawsuit filed years after his retirement. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a decision of an intermediate appeals court ending his benefits, ruling that the issue of whether to terminate such pension benefits was within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of the Retirement Board of Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, which had declined to do so. People ex rel. Madigan v. Burge, #115635, 2014 IL 115635, 2014 Ill. Lexis 846.
     Members of the New York City police and fire departments appointed on July 1, 2009 or after that date are classified as "tier three" members of the applicable pension funds. Some tier three employees challenged the city's deduction from their gross wages of three percent as mandatory employee pension contributions, arguing that the deductions were unlawful under a state statute requiring a public employer to pay an employee's statutorily required pension contribution. The highest court in New York rejected this argument, finding that the statute in question only covered temporary programs that had been in place as of 1974 for tier one or tier two public employee retirement system members. Lynch v. City of New York, #119, 2014 N.Y. Lexis 1489, 2014 NY Slip Op 4873.
     An intermediate Illinois appeals court ruled that the estate of a deceased former recipient of an Illinois Pension Code annuity for firefighters could not bring a lawsuit against the Retirement Board of the Fireman's Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago for the benefit of the estate's heirs. Any right that the deceased former recipient of the annuity had to receive a retroactive salary increase under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement ended with her death.
Hooker v. Retirement Board of the Fireman's Annuity & Benefit Fund, 2014 IL App (1st) 131568, 2014 Ill. App. Lexis 344.
     A judgment in favor of the plaintiff city in a lawsuit over how police and fire retirement benefits were calculated was vacated. The city was precluded from relitigating a previously decided issue concerning holiday premium pay being included in the calculation. The city was also barred from trying to require retirees to repay any retirement benefits because of the previous erroneous inclusion of shift differential pay in the calculation as compensation attached to rank. The city's retirement system board could, however, try to recoup benefits that were improperly paid to retirees in three years because of the inclusion of an inflated number of pensionable holidays for those years. City of Oakland v. Oakland Police & Fire Retirement System, #A136769, 2014 Cal. App. Lexis 192.
     When a retiree had worked both as a city employee and as a member of the city council, the state public employees' retirement system could calculate his benefits on a bifurcated basis, using his highest employee salary and his highest salary as an elected official. Chaidez v. Board of Administration of California Public Employees' Retirement System, #C065913, 223 Cal. App. 4th 858, 2014 Cal. App. Lexis 109.
     A state employee retired from his job as an investigator for the Secretary of State and a state employee retirement system approved his pension amount. They later notified him that an error hade been made in calculating his pension amount and that the overpayment would be recouped and the monthly benefit reduced. He challenged the reduction. An intermediate state appeals court found that the system lacked the statutory authority to correct errors in pension calculations after the elapse of a 35 day period authorized by a state Administrative Review Law. Sharp v. The Board of Trustees of the State Employees' Retirement System, #4-13-0125, 2014 IL App (4th) 130125. 2014 Ill. App. Lexis 2.
     The widows of two deceased firefighters who received duty-related injuries and died were not entitled to have a form of compensation that their husbands never received included in the calculation of their widows' pension. Duty availability pay to compensate firefighters for being available for duty was created after their husbands had already had their accidents, so they never received it. It could not then be included in the calculation of their benefits based on the current salary of the position last held by the deceased. Hooker v. Ret. Bd. of the Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, #114811, 2013 IL 114811, 2013 Ill. Lexis 1621.
     A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that the city of Detroit's retiree pensions can be cut as part of the city's bankruptcy. The city's largest employee union has filed an appeal to a federal district court, and also reportedly plans to ask the bankruptcy court for permission to take the case directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In Re: City of Detroit, Michigan, Debtor, Chapter 9, #13-5386, U.S. Bankruptcy Court (E.D. Mich. Dec. 3, 2013).
     Michigan's governor appointed an emergency manager for a city having economic difficulties. That manager, acting under a law known as Public Act 4, modified the collective bargaining agreements of the city's retired employees. He also modified severance benefits, including pension benefits, that the city had previously given to retirees who were not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Retired employees challenged the emergency manager's power to reduce their retirement benefits, claiming that it violated their federal constitutional rights under the Contracts Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Bankruptcy Clause. A federal appeals court noted that there was a question of Michigan state law as to whether the legislature violated the state constitution in passing Public Act 4, and, additionally, that Michigan's voters had subsequently rejected Public Act 4 in a ballot referendum, which may have rendered the emergency manager's actions void. The appeals court, therefore, declined to rule on the federal constitutional claims, remanding for further proceedings to determine whether the actions taken under the now rejected law still have any power. City of Pontiac Retired Emps. Ass'n v. Schimmel, #12-2087, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 16519, 2013 Fed. App. 0215P (6th Cir.).
     A federal appeals court upheld in general the District of Columbia's laws against "double dipping" by employees who retired from a job with the District and then were rehired in another job, attempting to draw both a full pension and a full salary. The plaintiffs were retired employees of the Metropolitan Police Department who drew a pension and were subsequently hired by another District agency. The court found that the claims that the salary offset violated the Fifth Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause were meritless. It did, however, find that in slashing three of the plaintiffs' salaries, allegedly below the federal minimum wage, the District may have overstepped the boundaries of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), so further proceedings were needed.  Cannon v. District of Columbia, #12-7064, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 11130 (D.C. Cir.).
     An employee who retired from federal service agreed to get a reduced annuity, naming his wife to receive a survivor annuity. Later, they divorced and he married another woman. He received annual notices telling him that if he wanted to have survivor benefits paid to a spouse he married after retirement, he had to send in a signed request within two years of the marriage. He sent in such a request four years after the marriage, and it was denied as untimely. He was then told to send in his divorce decree from his first marriage to change or eliminate the prior survivor election. He waited four more years before doing that, and was told that the change had been made. When he died, the first wife's application for survivor's benefits was denied and the second's wife's application was granted. The Merit System Protection Board held that the benefits should go to the first wife. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the award to the first wife was not supported by substantial evidence. Dachniwskyj v.Office of Pers. Mgm., #11-3158, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 6550 (Fed. Cir.).
     The highest court in New York ruled that, after a collective bargaining agreement with a firefighters' union expired, current law did not allow the firefighters to retain their non-contributory retirement benefit plan. Therefore, an arbitration award ordering the city to keep providing that benefit had to be vacated, since the arbitration award now conflicted explicitly with state law.  In the Matter of City of Oswego v. Oswego City Firefighters Association, #49, 2013 N.Y. Lexis 578, 2013 NY Slip Op 2163
     The widow of a Baltimore firefighter began receiving survivor benefits from his pension. She later filed a dependent's claim for death benefits under workers' compensation. The city argued that a statute reducing workers comp death benefits by the amount of a pension applied, while the widow argued that another statute, allowing firefighters' dependents to collect both the workers' compensation and the pension, up to the total amount that had been the firefighter's salary applied. The highest court in Maryland ruled that the widow had no preexisting right to dual benefits, as the statute that now allowed such benefits was amended after her husband had already died. Because this change was substantive, it did not apply retroactively. Johnson v. Baltimore, #45/12, 2013 Md. Lexis75.
      A federal employee served as a criminal investigator or special FBI agent until she retired in 2008. From when she started working in 1983 until early in 2001, she received "availability pay" as provided by a statute, 5 U.S.C. 5545a. This pay was equal to 25 percent of her base pay, and to qualify for it, she had to work at least 40 hours a week and at least be available to work, if needed, up to two extra hours each work day. A federal appeals court ruled that she had not been eligible for, and had not received, such availability pay after she started working part time until her retirement. As a consequence, her average pay used in calculating the amount of her retirement annuity should not include availability pay. Her highest three years of pay were at the end of her years of service, 2006-2008, but she did not then receive availability pay. Denney v. Office of Pers. Mgmt., #12-3094, 2013 U.S. App. 2753 (Fed. Cir.).
    The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the state legislature did not violate the Florida Constitution by changing the Florida Retirement System for state employees from noncontributory to contributory and requiring all current members of the system to contribute three percent of their salaries to it. The legislature also had the power to eliminate further retirement cost of living adjustments to creditable service after the effective date of the statute. None of these changes breached any statutorily created contract rights or any state constitutional right, such as the prohibition against an unconstitutional "taking." The changes merely prospectively changed benefits for future service performed. Scott v. Williams, #SC12-520, 2013 Fla. Lexis 65.
    A firefighter who injured his back after lifting a 360-pound patient onto a stretcher in an ambulance was awarded a firefighter's duty-related disability pension. The Pension Board subsequently terminated his benefits upon a determination that he had not been disabled when the pension was granted. It relied on a medical examination by a doctor which found that the firefighter was not and never had been disabled and was only expressing a subjective claim of pain. The decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence and the Board was empowered to terminate the benefits. Hoffman v. Orland Firefighters' Pension Board, #1-11-2120, 2012 Ill. App. Lexis 952, 2012 IL App (1st) 112120.
     A retired California state employee receiving a pension wanted to enter into a domestic partnership under state law with the woman he lived with, who had taken care of him during his illness. He designated his estate as his beneficiary, and then he and the woman went in front of a notary to sign a declaration of domestic partnership. Later that same afternoon, he died. She then took the certificate of domestic partnership and filed it with the state. Based on that, she applied for state pension survivor's benefits. Because the certificate was not filed with the state while the decedent was still alive, no valid domestic partnership was formed and she was not entitled to state pension survivor benefits. Burnham v. California Public Employees' Ret. Sys., #C067715, 208 Cal. App. 4th 1576, 2012 Cal. App. Lexis 942 (Cal. App. 3rd Dist.).
     A police officer who suffered an injured knee during a traffic stop, and claimed that he had continuing pain and reduced functioning after undergoing two surgical procedures was properly denied both a line-of-duty disability pension and a not-in-duty disability pension. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluator presented a comprehensive report documenting that the officer was able to perform his job functions at a medium physical demand level, with only some limitations on lifting and carrying. The pension board properly relied on that report, and on the opinion of a doctor who reviewed the report and agreed with its conclusion that the injured employee could continue to function as a police officer. Goodman v. Morton Grove Police Pension Board, #1-11-1480, 2012 Ill. App. Lexis 87, 2012 IL App (1st) 111480, (1st Dist.).
     Fifth Circuit holds that the United States may garnish a sheriff's retirement benefits to satisfy a criminal restitution order, but only up to 25% the monthly benefits. In the case of a full redemption of paid-in contributions, the entire amount is subject to seizure. U.S. v. De Cay (La. Sheriffs Pension Fund), #09-30218, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19522 (5th Cir.).
    In an action claiming that a city breached its obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to make contributions to the fund, the city could not seek dismissal on the ground that a bargaining agreement called for binding arbitration. The CBA did not empower the city to initiate arbitration. Dugan v. City of W. Chicago v. Int. Union, etc., #08 C 2223, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 22110 (N.D. Ill.).
     Florida pension trustees file a class action lawsuit in N.Y. City, claiming that a major insurance and financial services firm artificially inflated its share prices and concealed risky investments, resulting in investor asset losses. Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund v. American International Group, #1:2008cv04772, Complaint, Pacer Doc. 1 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).
    City of San Diego agrees to settle a pension underfunding lawsuit for $173 million; funds to come, in part, from a tobacco settlement. McGuigan v. City of San Diego, #GIC 849883, 44 (2162) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 657, 33 Pension & Benef. Rep. (BNA) 1446 (Cal. Super. Ct 2006). {N/R}
     In two cases, Illinois appellate courts hold that a convicted police officer and a judge were only entitled to a refund of their pension contributions, less the amounts paid to them prior to their convictions. In the case of the officer, the prior benefits paid had exceeded the amount of his contributions. Shields v. Bd. of Tr. of Judge's Retirement System, #1-00-4133, 329 Ill.App.3d 27, 768 N.E.2d 26, 2001 Ill. App. Lexis 826 and Phelan v. LaGrange Park Police Pension Fund, #1-01-1226, 327 Ill.App.3d 527, 763 N.E.2d 343, 2001 Ill. App. Lexis1483 (Released 2002). An appeal before the IL Supreme Court is pending in the Shields case, Docket # 94029 (10/01/2002). {N/R}
     Federal appeals court allows cities to appropriate "excess" funding from fire and police pension funds. Koster v. City of Davenport, # 98-1459, 1999 U.S. App. Lexis 15030, 183 F.3d 762 (8th Cir. July 7, 1999). [1999 FP 135]
     Federal Courts in Illinois rules that a police pension fund is a covered entity under A.D.A. Court also declines to dismiss the city as a co-defendant. Holmes v. Aurora, 3 AD Cases (BNA) 23 (N.D.Ill. 1993) and 4 AD Cases 967 and 4 AD Cases 1781 (N.D.Ill. 1995). See also: Deertz v. Chicago, 912 F.Supp. 319 (N.D.Ill. 1995) and Piquard v. Peoria, 887 F.Supp. 1106 (E.D.Ill. 1995). [1994 FP 76]
     Article: ADA pension litigation certain to rise against police and fire depts., 34 (1664) G.E.R.R. (BNA) 679-680 (May 1996).
     Firefighter lawfully denied a pension following his arson conspiracy conviction, even though he would have been entitled to a pension if convicted of a non duty-related offense. Parente v. Town of West Warwick, 685 F.Supp. 873 (D. R.I. 1988).
     New York's highest court rules that part-time public employees are entitled to pension benefits unless the law which establishes the pension fund specifically excludes them. Doctors Council v. N. Y. City Emplees. Ret. Sys., 71 N.Y.2d 669, 525 N.E.2d 454 (1988).
     Editor's Note: Most "pensions" are either "ordinary" or "disability" benefits. Ordinary retirements (non duty-related) are discussed under Retirement Rights and Pension. Duty-related systems are discussed under Disability Rights and Benefits, or Workmen's Compensation.
     See also: Age Discrimination, Disability Benefits & Rights, Handicap Laws & Abilities Discrimination; Light Duty Assignments (in lieu of pension), Retirement Benefits & Rights, and Stress-Related Claims & Defenses.

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