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LOSD faces tort claim

Former counselor alleges age discrimination and lost wages
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A retired Lake Oswego High School counselor has filed a tort claim against the Lake Oswego School District alleging age discrimination and lost wages.

The claim was filed June 6 by Portland attorney Kimberly Marsh on behalf of Reid Segal, a 57-year-old Lake Oswego resident who retired in June 2004.

According to the claim, the 2004 to 2007 contract between the district and the Lake Oswego Education Association requires that the district pay retirees a lower hourly rate than younger employees performing the same job.

The contract, which expires at the end of June, also requires the district to terminate retirees without cause after three years.

It further states that salaries should be based on position, years of experience and education rather than retirement status or age related to that status.

All employees receiving wages under the provision are more than 40 years old and, to retire with full benefits, employees must have 30 years of employment under PERS or be more than 58 years old for Tier one and 60 years old for Tier two.

The claim states that the provision discriminates against older employees - and therefore violates Oregon and federal law and the district's anti-discrimination policy.

Segal worked for the district for 16 years and chose to retire with a final pay rate of $30.96 per hour and benefits under the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System.

When Segal willingly returned to the same position two years later, he agreed to a pay rate of $20.32 per hour

The claim alleges lost wages at $10.64 per hour, which totals damages of $5,532 to date. The claim seeks Segal's lost wages.

Segal referred all questions to his lawyer - Marsh declined to comment.

The new three-year contract, set to take effect July 1, does not include the provision in question.

The district often hires back retirees part-time as a advantage to the individual and the district, which benefits from their experience, said Superintendent Bill Korach.

Back in 2002, Korach retired for a few months to lock in his retirement benefits under a special agreement with the school board. He then 'un-retired,' came back at his original salary level and was required to pay back the retirement he received in the interim.

'There was no loss (to PERS) so the board's decision to back up any losses turned out not to cost them anything,' Korach said.

In the past year, approximately 10 retirees worked throughout the district in various roles.

In 2004, the district and the association agreed on a salary amount that would make it economically feasible for the district to re-hire retirees, he said.

The salary level they chose is equivalent to that of an average teacher hired by the district, he added.

Korach said it would not be in the district's best financial interest to bring back retirees who left at the top of the pay scale and pay them the same wage.

'To a great extent, it's a win-win situation, as long as the person isn't actually costing you more than a person you would have to pay medical benefits to and make a PERS contributions for,' Korach said.

As for Segal's complaint, the district has determined that their contract provisions do not discriminate by age.

'The school board intends to defend the agreement and its position and believes it has acted appropriately,' Korach said.