County Lifeguard Lt. Tom Zahn can work at his job until age 70, as long as he can pass the annual physical examinations.
Zahn was forced to retire from his job as skipper of the Bay Watch-Santa Monica rescue boat last May, when he reached age 60. Citing a 1983 Supreme Court decision that state and local governments generally cannot force workers to retire before age 70, a lawsuit was filed on Zahn's behalf by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last September, Zahn, who had passed his physical with flying colors, was reinstated under a temporary court order.
Week before last, U.S. District Judge Laughlin Waters issued a permanent injunction against the County of Los Angeles finding that its mandatory retirement policy violates the Fair Employment Act. This enables Zahn to work until age 70, provided he can pass the annual physical required for all lifeguards past age 50. Younger lifeguards get physicals every three years.
Attorney Robert Olmos of the equal employment commission said the injunction also applies to district attorney's investigators. For purposes of the judgment, Zahn's case was consolidated with that of Claud Hawkins, who was forced to retire last summer at age 60 from his job as an investigator with the district attorney's office.