On Monday in the Northern District of California, AT&T was sued in a class-action complaint by six former AT&T workers who participate and are beneficiaries to AT&T’s Pension Plan; the suit revolves around AT&T’s alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in regards to the AT&T Pension Benefit Plan.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that AT&T violated “ERISA’s actuarial equivalence, anti-forfeiture, joint and survivor annuity, and early retirement benefit requirements.” Additionally, AT&T is accused of violating the rules concerning form and payment of ERISA benefits and breaching its fiduciary duty.
According to the plaintiffs, they cannot receive their “vested accrued benefits if they retire before age 65 and/or receive their pension benefit in the form of a Joint and Survivor Annuity” because the terms of the AT&T Plan, which “reduce these alternative forms of benefits using ‘Early Retirement Factors’ and ‘Joint and Survivor Annuity Factors’ which result in Plan participants receiving less than the actuarial equivalent of their vested accrued benefit, contrary to ERISA.” Additionally, under ERISA an “employee’s right to her vested retirement benefits is a non-forfeitable”; therefore, “paying a participant less than the actuarial equivalent value of her accrued benefit results in an illegal forfeiture of her benefits.” As a result, AT&T’s Plan terms, which purportedly reduce the benefit amount to less than the actuarial equivalent violate ERISA’s anti-forfeiture requirement.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow, LLP.
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