MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
CLARIE, Chief Judge.
This suit was brought as a class action by the named plaintiffs, in behalf of all "male" state employees or former state employees, who were members of the State Employees' Retirement System, under Chapter 66 of the Connecticut General Statutes. It not only asserted equal protection claims under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, but also statutory violations under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs request the Court to grant both declaratory and injunctive relief against the Chairman of the State Employees' Retirement Commission, the State Treasurer and the State Comptroller, to prevent their alleged continued administration of what is claimed to be unlawful sexually discriminatory retirement provisions of the Connecticut State Employees' Retirement Act and more particularly § 5-162, § 5-163, and § 5-166 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
Jurisdiction of this suit exists under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(3) and (4), 2201, 2202, and 2281; and the action is specifically authorized under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Since injunctive relief restraining the enforcement of certain state statutes was requested, a three-judge constitutional court was convened, under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. A hearing on the merits, scheduled before the three-judge court on April 27, 1973, was postponed at the request of plaintiffs' counsel, because at that time the General Assembly was reported to be favorably considering legislation, which would make this case moot. The plaintiffs thereafter amended their complaint on October 15, 1973, by adding a second count, alleging that the State Retirement Act, on its face and as applied, violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and more specifically Public Law No. 92-261, effective March 24, 1972. The plaintiffs also represented that this state law clearly violates the interpretive guidelines relating to pension fringe benefits as promulgated under 29 C.F.R. 1604.9 and 37 C.F.R. 6835
The State Employees' Retirement Act grants to women employees having 25 or more years of state service, the right to
After a full hearing on the merits, the Court finds that the State Employees' Retirement Act does violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the regulations appurtenant thereto, in that it invidiously discriminates in favor of women over men, as to the number of years of service eligibility and the computation of retirement benefits. The Court accordingly grants judgment for the plaintiffs on their prayer for equitable relief.
This suit is sponsored by the Connecticut State Employees' Association, a non-profit organization, whose purpose primarily is to protect and promote the interests of all state employees. The parties stipulated in writing that the Association and its membership have approved the bringing of this action and that its news publication has in the past, and will in the future, apprise its members of its progress. They have also agreed that it is a true class action, and that the male plaintiffs are not in any way different from, unique, or not representative of other similarly situated male state employees, insofar as their retirement benefits and those of comparably situated female state employees are concerned.
The State Employees' Association itself agreed to pay the court costs required for the bringing of this action, while the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union agreed to assume the responsibility for providing cooperating legal counsel at no expense to the plaintiffs. All of the plaintiffs are male state employees; four of them are currently employed and two are retired. Both of the aforesaid employee categories are comprised of participating members in the Connecticut State Employees' Retirement Fund. Three of the active employees have worked more than 25 years and desire to retire before reaching 55 years of age; the fourth has served more than 10 years, but less than 25 years and wishes to retire in the near future.
The plaintiffs' complaint as originally drawn, attacked the constitutionality of several sections of the State Retirement Act and requested that their enforcement be enjoined, insofar as the statutes related to the disparate treatment of retirement provisions and premised these claims on alleged violations of equal protection rights under the Federal Constitution. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act was amended by Public Law No. 92-261, 86 Stat. 103, on March 24, 1972, so as to encompass state and local governments under its definition of the terms, "person, employer and employee," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(a), (b) and (f). This change made it encumbent upon state and local governments to immediately reappraise their employment practices, to be certain that they conformed with the amended federal law and its supporting regulations. After the commencement of this action on December 11, 1972, the plaintiffs, in January, 1973, filed a class complaint with the Boston Regional Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discrimination charges against the Connecticut State Employees' Retirement Commission. On September 14, 1973, that office issued to the plaintiffs a right to sue letter as the latter had requested. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act amendment made it obvious to the three-judge court,
Written stipulations of fact were executed by counsel; the first was filed November 30, 1973, and the supplement was filed February 6, 1974. Procedurally, counsel agreed therein that the amendment which added the second count, filed March 29, 1974,
The plaintiffs' complaint alleged that the following provisions of the State Retirement Act constituted an invidious discrimination against male employees:
(a) Connecticut General Statute § 5-162, and more particularly:
The plaintiffs' complaint alleged that the foregoing provisions of state law, on their face and as applied by the defendants, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights
Counsel for both parties have failed to bring to the Court's attention, any legislative history which might more fully explain the reasons why the General Assembly wrote into law this retirement age priority for the benefit of women. However, the Court is mindful that many private pension systems at that time contained similar provisions, which gave a preferred status to female employees. Historically, this is understandable when we read an 1872 decision of the United States Supreme Court, which considered women to have been ordained by the Creator to be the more dependent of the sexes and entitled to be sheltered from the rebuffs of life. That decision concluded that the State of Illinois in refusing to grant a license to a woman to practice law, had violated no provision of the Federal Constitution and explained its reasoning as follows:
That protective era has now passed. A new order prevails today where men and women stand side by side in the work force, performing like skills as equals in all occupational endeavors. It is only right that both sexes should be treated as equals in sharing the benefits of their productive efforts towards a better life.
The historical record of the present legislative act reveals that H.B. No. 117, was signed into law on May 8, 1919, and provided in relevant part:
It is of special interest to note that the first State Retirement Act provided for no preferred status, to any employee because of his or her gender; the granting of retirement was not then regarded as a right to be demanded by the employee, but a matter of discretion which rested solely with the State, and determined by the Board of Finance and Control. The term "employee" was classified as being "any person" and this description was
It was not until 1939 that the amended law, § 67e, introduced the preferred retirement status for women. It provided in relevant part as follows:
This disparate treatment of eligibility for retirement was first built into the law in the 1939 Session and continues down to the present; it is more particularly embodied in the specific statutes now being challenged, Conn.Gen.Stat. §§ 5-162, 5-163, and 5-166.
An exception to the foregoing age retirement rules, applies to state policemen and correctional institution guards and instructors, who are permitted to retire on their own application or that of their Commissioner after 20 years of service and upon reaching their forty-seventh birthday. It is also of interest to note that § 29-3 defines the term policeman to include policewoman; so that there exists no age disparity under the retirement laws affecting members of the State Police Department.
Statistical Facts Relevant to Plaintiffs' Status
The parties have stipulated that as of July 31, 1973, the relevant factual findings pertaining to the administration of the state retirement laws as they apply to the plaintiffs are as follows:
Total Qualifying Normal Normal time Ret. Date Ret. Date Plaintiff Age State Employment for benefits or Rate if Woman --------- ---- ---------------- ------------ --------- --------- Fitzpatrick 53 9/1/49 29 yrs. 4 mos. 2/1/75 2/1/70 to date Stein 54 4/16/41 32 yrs. 3 mos. 8/1/73 8/1/68 Slocum 51 11/17/41 31 yrs. 8 mos. 11/1/76 11/1/71 Elliot 52 Army Service 12/7/41-6/19/42 14 yrs. 5/12/49-7/26/50 4 mos. 5/1/84 5/1/81 1/3/61 to date Mathews 67 4/15/47-10/31/71 923.10 935.63 24 yrs. 8 mos. monthly Covert 64 6/14/26-9/24/26 12/20/26-9/23/27 6/4/28-9/21/28 3/1/49-7/25/50 16 yrs. 305.74 328.66 11/3/58-5/31/72 5 mos. monthly
The plaintiffs, Fitzpatrick, Stein, Slocum and Elliot, have expressed a desire to retire in the immediate future, but find that they are ineligible to do so. However, if each were a female, he would have been eligible to have retired at age 50, at the following respective monthly benefits: $1,149.53; $1,043.27; $483.70, and $171.50.
The normal retirement rate schedule for males is when the benefit rate is 2% or more; 25 years or more of service at
The benefit rate schedule for early retirement provides monthly benefits equal to 1/12 of rate, multiplied by the years of service, times the average of the three highest years of earnings. The variant in the male and female retirement is expressed in the rate table prescribed in § 5-162(d)(3) of the Connecticut General Statutes. That rate is determined by the years of service and the employee's age at retirement and is more specifically portrayed in the booklet "Connecticut State Employees' Retirement System, January 1972," attached to the filed stipulation as an appendix.
The monthly benefits calculated for each of the plaintiff-employees already retired, disclose a variance in monthly retirement benefits on the basis of sex. The benefits of the plaintiff Mathews are computed in the following manner: 1/12 (.02 × 248/12 × $22,455.30) equaling a monthly payment of $923.10; whereas, a comparable female employee's benefits would be computed by the formula: 1/12 (.025×20×$22,455.30) amounting to a monthly retirement benefit of $935.63. Similarly, the plaintiff Covert's calculation of monthly benefits would be: 1/12 (.0186×165/12 years×$12,013.36) amounting to monthly benefits of $305.74; whereas, a comparable female employee's benefits would be 1/12 (.02×165/12 years×$12,013.36) amounting to a monthly payment of $328.66. The parties have agreed that retirement benefits under the State Retirement Act may be properly described as "fringe benefits" within the meaning of Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EEOC Code of Regulations.
Claims of the Parties
The plaintiffs direct their claims against the challenged state laws on federal statutory grounds aided by the supporting power of the most recent amendment to Title VII of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, Public Law No. 92-261, effective March 24, 1972. Title 42 U.S.C. § 2000e defines an employer as a "person" engaged in an industry affecting commerce, who employs fifteen or more employees for a minimal stated period of time; and it defines the term "person" to include "state governments, governmental agencies, (and) political subdivisions." Thus, all state employees have now been brought by Congress under the protection of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (a). That federal law now makes it an "unlawful employment practice" for an employer "to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex . . .." Title 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) authorizes any aggrieved person to bring an action against his employer, if his grievance has not been resolved within 180 days after he has filed his complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The parties stipulated that all of the statutory prerequisites have been fully complied with here, so that the issues are properly before the Court. The secondary attack on discriminatory sex classifications in the state's retirement laws, addresses itself to the claim that these differences are unreasonable and arbitrary and do not have any fair or meaningful relation to the object of the legislation.
The defendants have baldly denied that the retirement laws impose any invidious discrimination on the basis of sex, so as to deprive the plaintiffs or those identifiable with their class, of equal protection under the federal constitution or the provisions of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) (2). They also assert that this suit is in reality a suit against the State of Connecticut and as such is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the Federal Constitution. On the discrimination issue, the Attorney General has argued
Discussion of Law
There exists no threshold jurisdictional barrier to the Court's disposition of this case. While it is now a commonly accepted principle that the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution will bar a suit for money damages in federal court against an unconsenting state, jurisdiction was recognized in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), to enjoin the acts of state officials, when they were sued individually and the complaint alleged that they were acting unconstitutionally or contrary to a federal law. Certainly, any determination that a state statute is void for obstructing a federal statute rests on the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution.
Congress proclaimed by law on March 24, 1972, that the federal right to equal opportunity in employment should be extended to include employees working for state and local governments. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. State governments were charged with the duty to reformulate their thinking in this area and to avoid committing "unlawful employment practices," if such existed.
Under subchapter VI, § 2000e, Definitions, the law defines the statutory terms as follows:
Clearly, the law requires that all state employees, except those specifically exempted (such as those elected to public office or their personal or policy staff of advisers) are subject to and protected by the discrimination prohibitions of the federal law.
Section 2000e-2 provides:
Supportive of the foregoing amendment the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission on April 5, 1972, revised its "Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex" which provide in relevant part:
The Court is required to look with great deference to these administrative interpretive guidelines established by the very agency charged with administering this law.
The amended federal statute and these supporting guideline regulations make it obvious to the Court, that the Connecticut State Employees' Retirement Act treats men and women according to different benefit standards, in determining their retirement age and pension benefits. The Connecticut plan as presently written, strikes at the very principle, which the federal law prohibits, the disparate treatment of men and women employees, because of their gender.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals defined its interpretation of this law without equivocation, when it said:
The same interpretation of Title VII was followed in Ugiansky v. Flynn and Emrich Company, 337 F.Supp. 807, 810 (D.Md.1972) where the Court said:
The Supreme Court had outlawed discrimination as to sex as an overall practice when it decided Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542, 544, 91 S.Ct. 496, 27 L.Ed.2d 613 (1970) and stated that under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, persons of like qualifications must be given employment opportunities irrespective of their sex.
A plain reading of the present statute teaches us that retirement plans which treat men and women differently with respect to their ages of retirement are prohibited. The Fifth Circuit Court
In a similar vein, the Seventh Circuit said:
The Connecticut retirement plan constitutes an unlawful employment practice, because it discriminates between men and women with regard to employment fringe benefits and is therefore found by the Court to be illegal and in violation of federal statutory law.
The complaint asks that the Court, in addition to granting injunctive relief against continued prospective violations of the law, should assess money damages retroactively to July 2, 1965, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act became law. An alternative proposal would award retroactive benefits to January 25, 1971, a date two years prior to the January 25, 1973 date when the plaintiffs first filed their complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. They argue that they are entitled to the enforcement of the two-year back pay statute of limitations, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g), restricting the recovery of retroactive claims under the Act. The plaintiffs insist however, that in any event, they should at least receive benefits recalculated back to March 24, 1972, when the protective policy of the amendment as expressed in Title VII, was extended to include all employees in state government. They press their claim, that they are entitled to be reimbursed back to the time when the federal law first proclaimed as a national policy, that this type of discrimination must end; and only if the Court orders such restitution with their past benefits recomputed, can all victimized male employees be made financially whole.
The plaintiffs have also asked that this Court allow them a sum for reasonable attorneys' fees, under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). They agree that the Court's granting of such a request is solely discretionary. The plaintiffs' counsel argues that this litigation is of sufficient public importance to justify the granting of such fees as part of the court costs to the prevailing party.
The total hours of legal preparation as a cooperating attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union amounted to 137.5 hours. A portion of this, 84.9 hours ($4,245.00) is attributable to the work of Attorney Orth, the chief counsel; 22.6 hours to his associate, Attorney Carey ($1,130.00); and 30 hours to a second associate, Attorney Priestly ($900.00). The affidavit submitted by the plaintiffs asserts that the reasonable charges for the legal services of the principals in his firm is billed at the rate of $50 per hour, while that of the associates is $30 per hour. The Court finds that while the counsel fees requested are fair and reasonable in amount, they are not allowable as a recoverable expense against the State.
Law Re: Damages
The State Retirement Fund, § 5-156, provides for a separate trust fund into which is deposited employee
The rule has evolved that a suit by private parties seeking to impose a liability which must be paid from public funds in the state treasury is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Great Northern Life Ins. Co. v. Read, 322 U.S. 47, 64 S.Ct. 873, 88 L.Ed. 1121 (1944); Kennecott Copper Corp. v. Tax Commission, 327 U.S. 573, 66 S.Ct. 745, 90 L.Ed. 862 (1946).
The issue of recovering money damages against a state was clearly resolved in the recent case of Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974) where the United States Supreme Court held that the federal court was without jurisdiction to award a retroactive money judgment, in the absence of a waiver or without the State's consent, when such would have to be satisfied out of the general revenues of the State; and that this principle was applicable even though the award attempted to make equitable restitution of moneys previously illegally withheld. The plaintiffs here do not suggest that the State has waived the immunity provisions of the Eleventh Amendment. This amendment, therefore, still remains a jurisdictional barrier to the payment of the retroactive monetary relief requested.
In a similar application the Eleventh Amendment precludes the award of attorneys' fees. The State of Connecticut is an alter ego of the defendant Commission members and they have not waived the State's sovereign immunity defense. The award of attorneys' fees from state funds is tantamount to an award of money damages. While the amount sought in this case is not prohibitive, once the flood-gates are opened, adequate control no longer prevails. Statutory authority cannot be permitted to frustrate or pierce the Eleventh Amendment constitutional shield.
See also, Jordan v. Fusari, 496 F.2d 646, 651 (2nd Cir. 1974), where the Court found the State of Connecticut, in a different case, had waived the Eleventh Amendment, by its conduct in previously settling claims for back unemployment compensation benefits.
The Court finds no reason to discuss the applicability of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it relates to discrimination because of sex. Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 92 S.Ct. 251, 30 L.Ed.2d 225 (1971); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 92 S.Ct. 1029, 31 L.Ed.2d 349 (1972), and Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 93 S.Ct. 1764, 36 L.Ed.2d 583 (1973). The federal civil rights statute has adequately determined the issues raised.
The Court finds this to be a class action and that the plaintiffs are entitled to prospective injunctive relief from this date forward, so as to prevent the defendants and their successors from paying out moneys from the retirement fund or state moneys in respect to said fund, which discriminates against men on the basis of sex. The defendants are accordingly ordered to administer the State Employees' Retirement Act without unreasonable sex classifications unfavorable to men as they relate to retirement age and benefit computations; so that men will be eligible to retire at age 50 and receive the same treatment as similarly situated women. Nothing herein shall be construed to interfere with the State Legislature performing its constitutional function of freely determining public policy, as it pertains to deciding upon a uniform retirement age for all men and women employees of the State of Connecticut in the future, provided the same is carried out without discrimination as to age or benefits on the basis of sex.
The foregoing opinion shall constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law required to be filed by the Court, pursuant to Rule 52(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
The parties shall settle an appropriate order within ten (10) days. So ordered.