MILWAUKEE (CN) – After encouraging employees to buy years of service credit before they retired, Milwaukee County reneged on its deal, a public worker claims in a class action.
Ruben Angeles and his wife Pamela sued Milwaukee County and the Employees’ Retirement System of the County of Milwaukee on Aug. 4, in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
Angeles was a part-time county employee from 1982 to 1993, when he became a full-time employee. He worked for the county until April this year.
Angeles claims the county accepted his $30,500 check to buy back benefits for his part-time years – an offer the county proposed -then stiffed him when he retired.
“Since 1950 Milwaukee County has instituted and administered a Reinstatement of Prior Service Credits program, aka ‘buyback’ program, which it promoted to its employees who at one time had been part-time employees of Milwaukee County and became full time employees of Milwaukee County, whereby if that employees made or had made on his/her behalf a payment to Milwaukee County, Milwaukee County would add years of full time service credit to the employment of the employee for retirement benefit purposes,” Angeles says in the complaint.
He claims the county pushed the program though it knew it violated the IRS tax code and Milwaukee County ordinances.
Milwaukee County “advised the plaintiff that if he were to participate in the Reinstatement Program and pay Milwaukee County $30,513.06, he would receive 6.16134 additional years of service credit and, assuming full time employment with Milwaukee County, his … retirement eligibility date would be April 1, 2014,” the complaint states.
Angeles says he paid the county the money in 2005, and received confirmation of the payment, and a receipt crediting him with the service time.
The county recognized him for his 25 years of service in 2011, and even gave him a watch, Angeles says. In April 2013, it began sending him notices of his impending retirement date in 2014 and his expected pension benefits.
Despite a March 27, 2014 letter from the county congratulating him on his retirement, Angeles says: “On April 9, 2014 Marian Ninneman, the manager of Milwaukee County’s Employee Retirement System, telephoned plaintiff and advised him that she had decided on behalf of Milwaukee County and its ERS [Employees’ Retirement System] that he could not retire on April 17, 2014 and refused to tell the plaintiff why.”
Several days later, Angeles received a letter telling him that “he could not retire from Milwaukee County with a benefit from Milwaukee County and its ERS because ‘your purchase of service credit is not allowed under the Ordinance.'”
Angeles seeks class certification, costs and damages for due process violations.
He is represented by Robert Elliott of Milwaukee.
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