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Procedural Posture

By: SMITH THOMPSON

Procedural-Posture

Plaintiff retiree appealed a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which denied his complaint for a writ of mandate to restore him to his employment with defendant state in an action for an alleged breach of plaintiff’s employment contract.

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Overview

Plaintiff retiree appealed a trial court’s judgment, which determined that a statutory change of the mandatory retirement age for state employees from age 70 to age 67 did not violate his rights, even though the change was made during his tenure. The trial court declined to reinstate him to his former position with defendant state. Plaintiff appealed, and the court affirmed, holding that plaintiff had no vested contractual right to remain in state employment until age 70 and that the legislature had the power to reduce plaintiff’s tenure and shorten his state service. Thus, he had no right to be reinstated. The court further held that although plaintiff’s right to a pension was vested, he was not assured of receiving maximum pension benefits because those benefits were subject to the condition that he remain in employment until age 70. Plaintiff did not satisfy that condition because he was lawfully retired at age 67. Therefore, even though his actual pension was smaller than anticipated, he suffered no impairment of vested pension rights because he had no constitutionally protected right to remain in employment until he had earned a larger pension at age 70.

Outcome

The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that plaintiff retiree had no vested right to remain employed by defendant state because defendant had legally lowered its mandatory retirement age during plaintiff’s tenure and that that change was applicable to plaintiff.

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