Harris v. County of Orange, No. 13-56061 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
A class of retired employees filed suit alleging that two reforms adopted by the County of Orange violated their vested rights when it restructured its health benefits program, in violation of the County's contractual obligations, and constituted age discrimination in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FEHA claim, holding that plaintiffs had no contractual right to continue receiving the Retiree Premium Subsidy pursuant to the holding in Retired Emps. Ass'n of Orange Cty., Inc. v. Cty. of Orange (REAOC V), 742 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir. 2014); California law did not fault the County for offering different benefits to retirees and to active employees at the outset, absent a FEHA violation; the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act applied to plaintiffs; and plaintiffs' claim of unlawful age discrimination under FEHA failed as a matter of law. The panel held, however, that the district court erred in dismissing some of plaintiffs' contract claims. The panel held that plaintiffs set forth sufficient allegations regarding the continuation of the Grant Benefit during the employees' lifetime to survive a motion to dismiss.