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NYC Sued Over Pensions for Police in Military Call-Ups

NYC Sued Over Pensions for Police in Military Call-Ups
New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

New York City illegally reduced the pension benefits of police officers called to active military duty in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney claimed.

Calculations by the police pension fund failed to account for compensation the officers would have received if the military hadn’t called them up for service, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after suing the fund, the city and the police department.

“This lawsuit is to ensure that soldiers remain on the same footing as their civilian counterparts and receive all the benefits to which they are entitled, and that they are not penalized for their service,” Bharara said in the statement.

The city’s calculations relied only on base pay and failed to include overtime or pay differential for night shifts that the officers might have earned, Bharara said. Beneficiaries of the lawsuit would be current and former officers called to duty after Sept. 11, 2001.

Georgia Pestana, chief of the labor and employment law division of the city’s law department, said that by law employees facing military call-up must be treated like any other employee who goes on leave.

“We believe that the pension benefits we provide to police officers who have served in the military meet that standard -- and would not want to discourage anyone from military service by providing them with less than what they are entitled to,” Pestana said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Goodman v. City of New York, 10-cv-5236, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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