U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Case on PwC Retirement Benefits


On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a case between accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and a number of employees who claim the firm violated federal benefit law.

The employees in question took lump-sum retirement payments but didn’t receive the full value of their accounts. An appeals court previously ruled in favor of the employees.

More from Reuters:

PricewaterhouseCoopers may face increased pressure to settle a decade-old lawsuit with a class of employees who took lump-sum retirement payments between 2000 and 2006 after coming up short on Monday in its bid for U.S. Supreme Court review.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been fighting claims that its plan deprived certain workers of “whipsaw payments,” which guarantee that participants who take lump-sum payments once they retire receive the full value of their accounts. The U.S. Congress eliminated mandatory whipsaw payments in 2006.

The accounting firm’s pension plan required workers to achieve five years of service prior to vesting. The Employment Retirement Income Security Act mandates that employees be fully vested in pension plans once they reach “normal retirement age,” though companies have latitude to define that term and it does not have to be the same age for every employee.

The workers suing PricewaterhouseCoopers had more than five years of service and say they were short-changed because they received lump-sum payments of only the cash balance of their retirement accounts without the additional amount from proper actuarial calculations.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in 2015 that the company’s plan ran afoul of ERISA’s requirement that employers set vesting ages that have reasonable relationships to a normal retirement age for the industry, from 65 for office workers to 35 for baseball players.

PwC claims that the appeals court ruling conflicts with previous rulings, thus requiring the Supreme Court to step in and clarify.


Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

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