Cashing in on Mandatory Retirement

NJIt’s hard to sympathize with Drew Lieb.

He recently filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Civil Preparedness.

I don’t know whether Lieb lost his $130,000-a-year position as Deputy Director of the state homeland office because of age discrimination. I do know that New Jersey Watchdog  reported that Lieb previously retired as a New Jersey state trooper with a pension of $96,144. So the taxpayers of New Jersey were paying Lieb a total of $226,144 a year, including his salary and his pension.

In the private sector, pensions are virtually extinct. According to one study, the number of Fortune 500 companies offering traditional defined benefit pension plans dropped 86 percent from 1998 to 2013, from 251 to 34. Many employers do not offer workers any retirement plan and those that do offer 401K plans, which are based on worker contributions.

Lieb’s case demonstrates a failing of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which permits states to require public safety officers to retire at age 55.  This age limit is purely subjective. Many 55-year-old public safety officers are more capable of performing their jobs than younger officers who are less fit.  And mandatory retirement effectively allows public safety workers to retire from one public safety job with a fat pension just to take a similar public safety job with a fat paycheck.

Many states allow public safety officials to retire even sooner, after they have accumulated a predetermined number of years of service.


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