In? 1974,? female? public? employees? in? Oregon sued the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) Board under Title VII alleging it was sex discrimination for the Board to use two sets of life expectancy tables, one for men and another for women, to calculate annuities. ?As a result of this practice, female PERS members received lower monthly payments because they were actuarially shown to live longer than male members.?? Following the U.S. Supreme Court?s decision in City of Los Angeles Dep?t of Water and Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702 (1978), which held that Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in employee benefit plans, the parties entered a consent decree permanently enjoining? ?sex-segregated? life? expectancy tables.? ?Until the passage of state legislation in 2003, despite changing life expectancy and interest rate assumptions, the Board did update the tables it utilized.?? Then, in 2003, six PERS members challenged the use of updated life expectancy tables asserting that by its wording the ?1978 ?consent ?decree? created ?a ?permanent floor requiring the Board to use at least the numbers from 1978.?? The trial court disagreed, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed holding that the consent decree halted the discriminatory use of separate sex-based life expectancy tables, it did not set in stone a permanent floor on benefits. Wicker v. State of Oregon, No. 07-35429 (Sept. 17, 2008) (Pregerson, Reinhardt, Marshall (C.D. Cal.)).
1978 Title VII Consent Decree Did Not Create Perpetual Floor for Calculating Annuity Pensions
Sep 17, 2008