Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (09/24/1990)

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act - Title I: Older Workers Benefit Protection - Amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to specify that it prohibits discrimination against older workers in all employee benefits except when age-based reductions in employee benefit plans are justified by significant cost considerations.

Declares that, as used in ADEA, the phrase "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" encompasses all employee benefits, including those provided under a bona fide employee benefit plan.

Allows employers to take any action otherwise prohibited under ADEA to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system that is not intended to evade the purposes of ADEA, but prohibits such systems from requiring or permitting involuntary retirement because of age.

Allows employers to take any action otherwise prohibited under ADEA to observe the terms of bona fide employee benefit plans under specified conditions.

Requires that the actual amount of payment made or cost incurred on behalf of an older worker be no less than that made or incurred on behalf of a younger worker, for each benefit or benefit package, in order for an employee benefit plan not to violate ADEA.

Allows observance of bona fide voluntary early retirement incentive plans that are consistent with the relevant purposes of ADEA.

Prohibits such employee benefit plans or voluntary early retirement incentive plans: (1) from excusing the failure to hire any individual; and (2) from requiring or permitting involuntary retirement because of age.

Places on the employer, employment agency, or labor organization the burden of proving, in any civil enforcement proceeding brought under ADEA, that such actions to observe the terms of such bona fide seniority systems, employee benefit plans, or voluntary early retirement plans are lawful.

Requires a seniority system or employee benefit plan to comply with ADEA regardless of the date of adoption of such system or plan.

Exempts from overall ADEA prohibitions (which codify the principle of equal benefit or equal cost): (1) certain benefit practices that are permanent features of a defined benefit pension plan; and (2) certain defined and identified forms of benefit coordination following contingent events unrelated to age.

Allows employers, without its being considered a violation of such ADEA provisions, to provide bona fide employee benefit plans under which long-term disability benefits received by an individual are reduced by any pension benefits (other than those attributable to employee contributions), if the individual: (1) voluntarily elects to receive such pension benefits; or (2) is eligible to receive them because of attainment of age 62 or normal retirement age, whichever is later.

Requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to consult with the Secretaries of Labor and of the Treasury before issuing rules and regulations for carrying out this title.

Applies this title, with specified exceptions, to: (1) any employee benefit established or modified on or after the enactment of this Act; and (2) other conduct occurring more than 180 days after such enactment.

Provides that, in the case of certain collective bargaining agreements, this title shall not apply until the termination of the agreement or June 1, 1992, whichever is first.

Delays application of this title until two years after the enactment of this Act in the case of any State or local government employee benefit plan which: (1) was maintained at any time between June 23, 1989, (which is the date on which the Supreme Court issued the decision in Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio v. Betts) and the enactment of this Act; (2) would be superseded in whole or in part by this title; and (3) may be modified only through a change in State or local law. Allows State and local governments to offer existing employees an election between existing and newly-created disability benefits. Directs the EEOC and the Secretaries of Labor and of the Treasury to provide States requested assistance in identifying and securing independent technical advice in complying with such provisions.

Declares that nothing in this title shall be construed as limiting specified ADEA prohibitions against discrimination in employee pension benefits plans.

Makes this title inapplicable to certain continued benefit payments that began before the enactment of this Act; but prohibits any substantial modification of such benefit arrangement if the intent of the modification is to evade the purposes of this Act.

Title II: Waiver of Rights or Claims - Prohibits an individual from waiving any right or claim under ADEA unless such waiver is knowing and voluntary. Prohibits considering such waivers as knowing and voluntary unless: (1) specified minimum standards are met, including certain periods for consideration of agreements; (2) additional requirements are met if waivers are requested in connection with an exit incentive or other employment termination program offered to a class or group of employees; and (3) in the case of waivers in settlement of a charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or an action filed in court, alleging age discrimination prohibited under certain ADEA provisions, certain minimum standards are met and the individual is given reasonable time to consider the settlement agreement.

Places on the party asserting validity of the waiver the burden of proving in a court of competent jurisdiction that a waiver was knowing and voluntary pursuant to such specified minimum requirements.

Prohibits any waiver agreement from: (1) affecting EEOC rights and responsibilities to enforce ADEA; or (2) being used to justify interfering with an employee's protected right to file a charge or participate in an EEOC investigation or proceeding.

Provides that a specified EEOC rule on waivers shall have no force and effect after enactment of this Act.

Title III: Severability - Sets forth a severability provision.