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-   -   Fired for cause after decades, and lose ALL your pension? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=414040)

Spectre of Pithecanthropus 03-26-2007 12:47 PM

Fired for cause after decades, and lose ALL your pension?
 
A common plot device in fiction is that somebody gets fired for cause, or threatened with firing. They're about 2 weeks from retirement but have committed some horrible mistake on the job or act of insubordination. Or maybe they have gotten arrested for some matter unrelated to their job. Anyway, the graver threat is that they will lose their pension, meaning that they'll be destitute and have to live out the remainder of their years on cabbage and potatoes.

Does this really happen, especially if the pension is vested? Has anyone in that situation ever successfully sued their former employer on the grounds that the pension was earned mostly during the first 39 years of acceptable service to the company?

muldoonthief 03-26-2007 12:56 PM

John Bulger, brother of the more famous Billy and Whitey, lost his state pension of $65k/yr after he lied to a grand jury about the whereabouts of Whitey. He was a clerk magistrate at the time.

He's currently suing to get it back.

Phlosphr 03-26-2007 01:02 PM

I do not think a company can not give you your earned pension even after a gross insubordination. It's your money you put into it, or it's written into your contract that you are entitled to said amount.

Pfizer just let 2,500 people go at their global production plant in Groton, Ct. They gave out the fabled Golden Handshake to all those who has 20+ years but who were not retiring yet. In some cases people lost a full pension if they didn't want the golden handshake.

hajario 03-26-2007 01:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phlosphr
I do not think a company can not give you your earned pension even after a gross insubordination. It's your money you put into it, or it's written into your contract that you are entitled to said amount.

Yes, but the pension in the OP wouldn't be vested yet. Let's say that you get a pension after twenty or more years of service and they can you after nineteen years and ten months. What about that?

Gfactor 03-26-2007 01:45 PM

Basic rule:
Quote:

Employers may not fire employees to avoid making benefit payments or to prevent benefits from vesting. Neither may employers force workers to quit for these reasons. However, a worker can lose nonvested benefits if fired for other reasons, or if he or she voluntarily quits.
http://public.findlaw.com/social_sec.../st13/qa4.html

Cases: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...=498&invol=133

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...ase&no=9556007

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...ket&no=971518p

mks57 03-26-2007 03:12 PM

I think it was true in the old days, before modern pension and labor laws.

I've also read about consumer loans where missing a single payment resulted in the creditor repossessing the item the loan was made for, and keeping all of the previous payments.

anson2995 03-26-2007 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phlosphr
I do not think a company can not give you your earned pension even after a gross insubordination. It's your money you put into it, or it's written into your contract that you are entitled to said amount.

Many companies had self-funded pensions, in which the employee never made any contributions. The benefits became vested based on years of service. This type of plan was offered as a benefit to employees, and encouraged them to stay with the company for a long time.

This used to be popular because it helped a corporations accounting. They could keep salaries low and count pension disbursements as an expense, not a benefit. In the long run, though, it costs real dollars. Companies like GM have been driven to the brink of bankrupcy by the spiraling costs.

Gfactor 03-26-2007 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mks57
I've also read about consumer loans where missing a single payment resulted in the creditor repossessing the item the loan was made for, and keeping all of the previous payments.

This is standard procedure. If you default on the loan, you don't get to keep the collateral and you don't get your money back unless the collateral sells for more than you owe (including the costs of repossession and sale).

mks57 03-26-2007 04:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gfactor
This is standard procedure. If you default on the loan, you don't get to keep the collateral and you don't get your money back unless the collateral sells for more than you owe (including the costs of repossession and sale).

The problem was that they were making large profits on defaults. They never gave any money back. If you missed the last payment, they still kept everything and you had nothing. Some of the sleazier operators sold the same items over and over again.

doreen 03-26-2007 05:05 PM

Apparently, it's possible at least in the case of a public employer http://publicpersonnellaw.blogspot.c...ion+misconduct See the last two paragraphs

robcaro 03-26-2007 05:23 PM

Read the Pension Protection Act here: http://www.dol.gov/EBSA/pensionreform.html

Gfactor 03-26-2007 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mks57
The problem was that they were making large profits on defaults. They never gave any money back. If you missed the last payment, they still kept everything and you had nothing. Some of the sleazier operators sold the same items over and over again.

I'd be interested in seeing a cite, if you've got one. :)

mks57 03-26-2007 06:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gfactor
I'd be interested in seeing a cite, if you've got one. :)

It was from an old book describing life for poor people in America during the early 20th century.

Even I can remember that many sleazy lending practices were common prior to the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968.

Gfactor 03-26-2007 06:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mks57
It was from an old book describing life for poor people in America during the early 20th century.

Even I can remember that many sleazy lending practices were common prior to the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968.

Ah . . . ok. So we're talking historically. I think that's right.

Quote:

I think it was true in the old days, before modern pension and labor laws.
:smack:


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