Harris v. County of Orange, 2018 WL 4211161 (9th Cir. 2018)

This case arises from a restructuring of two benefit plans that the County of Orange provides to its retirees.  The retirees allege they have an implied contractual right to receive the benefits provided to them throughout their retirement.  Although the district court dismissed the retirees’ breach of contract claim, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the retirees had alleged sufficient facts to establish an implied contractual right to the continued benefits.  However, the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the retirees’ claim of age discrimination, holding that the county may treat retirees as a group differently than employees as a group, taking into account that the cost of providing medical benefits to the retiree group is higher because the retirees are on average older than the employees.  See also Moen v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 25 Cal. App. 5th 845 (2018) (trial court erroneously decertified class of retired employees who alleged breach of contract associated with a change in their health benefits).