June 07, 2022

A group of AT&T Inc. employees and retirees asked a California federal judge to certify two classes containing nearly 300,000 people total in a suit alleging the company miscalculates married couples' pension plans.

The workers said in a motion filed Monday that their case accusing AT&T of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by systemically underpaying pension benefits to married couples is "tailor made" for class treatment. The telecom giant uses all the same factors to determine benefits amounts for married joint survivor annuity recipients as it does for single life annuity benefits, they said.

"In one fell swoop, this court can determine what ERISA's 'actuarial equivalence' obligation requires, whether AT&T has been and is delivering actuarially equivalent JSA benefits consistent with ERISA's requirements, and the appropriate yardstick for determining future benefits and measuring the amount of past underpayments," the workers said in their memorandum in support of class certification.

They are seeking to certify one class of about 38,340 AT&T retirees with currently active JSAs and another containing 260,000 plan participants who have not yet retired or begun to receive benefits.

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The proposed class is represented by Peter K. Stris, Rachana A. Pathak, Victor O'Connell, John Stokes and Colleen R. Smith of Stris & Maher LLP; Michelle C. Yau, Mary J. Bortscheller, Kai Richter and Daniel R. Sutter of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC; Todd Jackson and Nina Wasow of Feinberg Jackson Worthman & Wasow LLP; and Shaun P. Martin of University of San Diego School of Law.

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