The superior court judge “aptly stated” that, “where the legislation establishing a pension plan itself provides that the plan may be subject to modification or amendment, the participant does not acquire a vested contractual right in an unchanged plan and the plan may be amended without breaching employment contracts or violating the Impairment Clause.”“Simply, in the present case, there was no breach of the employment contracts or the Impairment Clause in the manner urged by Plaintiffs, and therefore, such alleged breach and impairment fail to provide a basis upon which to find that the ordinance is unreasonable,” today’s opinion concludes.
“Furthermore, inasmuch as the increases in pension contributions pursuant to the ordinance and amendment were not retroactive and the ordinance and amendment do not alter benefit formulas, calculations of pension benefits, or the actual benefit amounts payable to the participants at the time of retirement, such circumstances likewise do not negatively impact the ordinance….
Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official opinions of the Court.
The full opinions are available on the Supreme Court website at In today’s unanimous opinion, the high court has upheld a Fulton County Superior Court ruling and rejected the employees’ claim that a 2011 local ordinance modifying the amount they must contribute to their pensions is unconstitutional.
The ordinance did not change the amount of pension benefits members would receive upon retiring but did shift some of the burden for paying for the plans from the City to employees. 14, 2013, employees filed a class action lawsuit against the City, the Mayor, and the Atlanta City Council, claiming that by requiring them to pay more into their pension plans, the City breached their employment contracts with the City and violated the clause in the Georgia Constitution that prohibits the passage of any law “impairing the obligation of contract.” Stephen Borders is president of the Atlanta Professional Firefighters Union and the main named plaintiff.