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Review of Pension Plans Promised

September 15, 1999|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission promised a broad review of new pension plans that critics contend violate age discrimination laws.

"We want to hear from all stakeholders in order to reach fair conclusions" about "cash-balance" pension plans, EEOC Chairwoman Ida Castro said. "We intend to meet with and receive feedback from the employer, labor and civil rights communities."

Castro met Tuesday with Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), who has led congressional criticism of cash-balance plans that can reduce costs by cutting future benefits to middle-aged workers while allowing younger workers to take a larger payout if they depart before retiring.

The plans, adopted by more than 300 companies, shift some payments from pension plans to cash compensation and stock options.

Sanders said this may violate the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act. "We are not going to sit by and watch as our country's older workers are stripped of the benefits they have worked so long and hard for," he said.

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