Ocean City agreed earlier this month to pay a former lifeguard lieutenant $75,000 to settle an age-discrimination lawsuit he filed in 2010.
Edwin Yust, 71, a retired physical education teacher who served as a lifeguard for 51 years, sued the city after he was passed over for a promotion, had his hours reduced and then failed to meet tougher qualification standards.
“It’s not like I couldn’t do the rescue,” Yust said by phone from his winter home in Florida. “You never lose that experience.”
Yust filed a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Commission in 2008 and a civil suit in Superior Court in Cape May County in 2010, which was later transferred to Superior Court in Atlantic County.
Yust signed the confidential settlement agreement in December and Mayor Jay Gillian signed it Jan. 3. The Press of Atlantic City obtained a copy of the agreement Monday through an Open Public Records Act request.
Yust is one of several veteran lifeguards who accused Beach Patrol leaders of engaging in favoritism and nepotism that lead them to try and force older guards to retire. The city settled a similar suit in 2011 with former lifeguard Michael Hamilton for $50,000.
Yust’s lawsuit specifically named Beach Patrol Director Thomas MullineauxQ and fire officials Joseph FoglioQ and Charles Bowman because the Fire Ddepartment oversees the Beach Patrol.
It said that in 2008, when Yust was 67 and had 37 years of experience as an administrator, he was not selected for a promotion to senior lieutenant, passed over instead by two other guards were 39 and 36 years old. That same year, Yust was ordered to start work a month later than normal, reducing his potential pension payment upon retirement.
Yust filed his PERC complaint in the fall after that summer. In 2009, the suit says, Foglio, Bowman and Mullineaux eliminated a tiered system of physical fitness qualification that permitted administrators more time to complete a run and swim. Yust could not meet the new standards and retired.
“For my age, I thought I was physically fit,” he said. “I would have liked to have reached 55 years.”
The settlement resolves the case and Yust’s PERC complaint except for alleged abuses in the complaint that happened prior to 2008.
Ocean City is a member of the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund. The city will have to pay a deductible on the settlement and may be subject to higher premiums in the future.
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