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The Wagner Law Group

The Wagner Law Group is a nationally recognized practice in the areas of ERISA and employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor and human resources and investment management.

 

Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group is dedicated to the highest standards of integrity, excellence and thought leadership and is considered to be amongst the nation's premier ERISA and employee benefits law firms. The firm has seven offices across the country, providing unparalleled legal advice to its clients, including large, small and nonprofit corporations as well as individuals and government entities worldwide. The Wagner Law Group's 34 attorneys, senior benefits consultant and five paralegals combine many years of experience in their fields of practice with a variety of backgrounds. Seven of the attorneys are AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and six are Fellows of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, an invitation-only organization of nationally recognized employee benefits lawyers.  Seven of the firm's attorneys have been named to the prestigious Super Lawyers list for 2017, which highlights outstanding lawyers based on a rigorous selection process.

 

 

 

Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group

 

  Integrity | Excellence

  

Boston 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110

 

Washington, D.C.

Tel: (202) 969-2800

 

Fax: (202) 969-2568

 800 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Suite 810

Washington, D.C. 20006

 

Chicago

Tel: (847) 990-9034

Fax: (847) 557-1312

190 South LaSalle Street

Suite 2100

Chicago, IL 60603

 

  

Palm Beach Gardens 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

   

Tampa

Tel: (813) 603-2959

Fax: (813) 603-2961

101 East Kennedy Boulevard

Suite 2140
Tampa, FL  33602 

  

San Francisco

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

300 Montgomery Street

Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

  

St. Louis

Tel: (314) 236-0065

Fax: (314) 236-5743
25 W. Moody Avenue
St. Louis, MO  63119 

 

Lincoln, MA

Tel: (617) 532-8080

Fax: (617) 532-9090

55 Old Bedford Road

Lincoln, MA 01773

 

 

www.wagnerlawgroup.com

 

 

 

   Court Rejects Severance Pay Claim of Employee Terminated for

Refusing Transfer 

 

August 16, 2018

 

 

 

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (the "D.C. Circuit"), in Peck. v. SELEX Systems Integration, Inc., has affirmed a district court's judgment that a terminated employee was not eligible for severance pay after he refused to accept a transfer from his marketing position in D.C. to a quality-control position in Kansas.

 

Background. The employee was employed in an executive marketing position with the employer when he was informed that he was being removed from that position for poor performance. As an alternative, the employer offered to transfer the employee to Kansas to work as a quality control executive, a position for which he had significant experience. The employee rejected the employer's offer of transfer, even after the employer explained that his refusal to accept the quality control position would be cause for his termination. Accordingly, the employer terminated the employee after his final refusal of the transfer offer. 

 

The employer's severance plan provided that benefits were available to eligible full-time employees "whose employment terminated due to a lack of work, elimination of position, or change of control." The plan further provided that employees who were terminated for cause were ineligible for severance pay.

 

After being terminated, the employee filed a claim for benefits under the employer's severance plan. The employer denied the employee's claim because of the "circumstances of the termination of [his] employment" (i.e., he was terminated for cause and not one of the three reasons enumerated in the severance plan).

 

The employee subsequently sued the employer in federal district court, claiming that its decision to deny his claim for severance benefits violated ERISA. The district court dismissed the employee's claim for severance pay, reasoning that the evidence confirmed that he was terminated because he refused the accept the transfer to Kansas and not because the employer was eliminating the marketing position. In turn, the employee filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit.

 

D.C. Circuit. In reviewing the matter, the D.C. Circuit observed that the employee's claim for severance benefits was based solely on the premise that the employer had eliminated his marketing position. The court noted, however, that the employee did not contest the district court's determination that he was terminated for refusing the transfer as opposed to the elimination of his position. Moreover, the court found that the employer's termination letter to the employee confirmed that its reason for terminating him was because he had refused the transfer to Kansas. Accordingly, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the employer on the employee's severance pay claim.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.