This lawsuit is a legal challenge to reverse the changes in retiree benefits that were announced by Embarq Corporation in July 2007.These changes were:(1) the elimination of company-provided retiree medical benefits for people who are eligible for Medicare and the elimination of the company’s monthly subsidy for Medicare premiums, and (2) the reduction in the amount of company-paid life insurance to a maximum of $ 10,000 (for some retirees who participated in the Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Company’s VEBA, the change was the total elimination of company-paid life insurance).
The medical and life insurance benefits are governed exclusively by the federal pension and benefits law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (also known as “ERISA”).This federal law does not allow any state laws to regulate benefits of this kind.
The lawsuit makes legal claims that Embarq violated the retirees’ rights under ERISA by denying them medical and life insurance benefits that were permanent and could not be taken away.A second, alternative ERISA claim is that Embarq, Sprint and other defendants violated their fiduciary duty to describe the benefits accurately and did not clearly inform employees and retirees that these benefits could be taken away.
The lawsuit asks the court to award payments for benefits that were not paid but that should have been paid, and/or to provide money to take away from the companies the financial advantages that they gained by misleading employees and retirees about the benefits.
The lawsuit also makes claims under the federal age discrimination law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (also known as “ADEA”), which applies to discriminatory actions that employers take about retiree benefits.
2.What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
The federal court system has a procedure allowing a small number of representative plaintiffs (the people who file a lawsuit) to file and proceed with a lawsuit for both themselves and for all other people who have similar claims.The court in Kansas City will formally rule at a later date on the question whether the case, or any of its claims, should be handled as a class action.Before that court ruling, the case is treated as a class action
In a class action lawsuit, it is not necessary for a member of the class to be individually named in and added to the lawsuit.If at a later time there is a need to take action individually to participate in and benefit from the lawsuit, the class member will be notified, provided that he or she has submitted the Retiree Contact Information Form found on the "How You Can Help" page of this website (see the instructions in the next paragraph).
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT AGE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS:The legal procedures governing the federal law age discrimination claims requires that individuals must sign up and join individually. The Notice of Class Action and Collective Action, mailed April 28, 2011, includes the Consent Form that each person must complete and return in order to be included as part of the "collective action" for the federal law age discrimination claims. Due to court deadlines, you should promptly complete and return the Consent Form. It must be received at the post office box by June 27, 2011. Make sure to complete and mail in the Consent Form well before the June 27, 2011 deadline. Click on the “Latest News” button on the left side of this page to review the Notice.
3.Who Is a Member of the Class Covered by the Lawsuit?
The Complaint that was filed at the start of the case contains a request for class action treatment of the ERISA claims.The Class that is proposed for the lawsuit is intended to cover all retirees (and eligible spouses and other dependents who were entitled to benefits) anywhere in the United States, no matter who their last employer was, or whether they are union or management employees, provided that they were affected by the July 2007 benefits changes announced by Embarq.
This Class includes some Sub-classes, covering Class members who fall within certain groups – people who were participants in the Carolina Tel. & Tel. “VEBA” Plan and retirees who last worked in Ohio, Oregon or Tennessee.
4.What Do I Need to Do to Become Part of the Lawsuit?
As stated in the Notice dated April 28, 2011, all individuals (including spouses and other dependents who are eligible for the benefits) are automatically part of the class action lawsuit for purposes of the claims under the federal pension law (ERISA) and state law age discrimination claims to restore the medical, prescription drug, and life insurance benefits. But members of the Class must take steps to participate in the other available claims:
a. Class members are strongly urged to join the collective action for the federal age discrimination claims by promptly completing and returning the Consent Form that is part of the Notice. It must be received at the post office box by June 27, 2011. Make sure to complete and mail in the Consent Form well before the June 27, 2011 deadline. Click on the “Latest News” button on the left side of this page to review the Notice. The Consent Form is on page 11 of the Notice and should be completed and torn out on the perforations, and then returned in the business reply envelope that is included in the Notice packet.
b. The Court ruled against class certification for the retirees’ alternative claim that Sprint and Embarq systematically misrepresented that the retiree benefits were lifetime.These claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty can provide an alternative to the claims for restoration of benefits and age discrimination claims but must be filed on an individual basis.As stated in the Notice, you should immediately contact the Legal Team (or another lawyer of your choice) if you believe that you may have a basis for a Breach of Fiduciary Duty claim. You can call the Legal Team at 1-800-511-1104 to request a Questionnaire so that you can submit your information to the Legal Team for their review and further action.
5.How Can I Help the Legal Team and the Lawsuit?
The Legal Team urgently needs to obtain your contact information and collect evidence (documents and information) that you have.Click on the “How You Can Help” button on the left side of this page and follow the instructions for completing and submitting the Retiree Contact Information Form and respond to the other requests on that page.
You are urged to do this as soon as possible in order to help the Legal Team move forward with case preparation.
The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your situation.
Use of this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship with any law firm.