1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Retirement

Discussion in 'Employee Benefits, Pensions' started by Beverly, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    Hawaii
    A prison closed and I was laid off. The prison re-opened after almost 5 years. After negotiations between the state and union many of us were offered our jobs back. I was sent an agreement to sign and return opting to take my job back or not. The agreement stated I would get my seniority back. Per my union, seniority means years of service. Now, 2 years later, as I try to retire (and get my pension) I am being told that I did not get my years of service credited and would have to earn them back. I want to sue for breach of contract. What are my chances of winning against the union.
     
  2. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

    Messages:
    6,967
    Likes Received:
    290
    Trophy Points:
    83

    Was the agreement you signed getting your job & seniority back between you & the prison or you & the union? Is the prison AND your union now saying you have to earn your years of service back? Have you talked to your union currently?
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    9,152
    Likes Received:
    2,941
    Trophy Points:
    113

    I'm guessing that the agreement said a lot more than just that one sentence.

    Obviously there's no way to tell you anything without reading the agreement. You can post it here, in full, word for word, redacting the identifying information and you may get some helpful comments.

    Or, take it to an employment attorney.
     
  4. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,032
    Likes Received:
    496
    Trophy Points:
    83
    If this is public sector, years of service and eligibility as far as the pension are established by the plan and regulations. They can not be negotiated. It is very possible that seniority applied only to internal policies like leave accrual, priority for applying for jobs, and service awards. This happens where I work often.
     
  5. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
     
  6. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    The agreement was with the State and the Union. The first sentence says "In an agreement with the (union) we are pleased to inform you that we are able to offer you your last held permanent position.....and goes on to say "You will be able to retain your current seniority". The state gave me my step grade and pay scale back. I have been in constant contact with the union and they appear to have tried to fix this but are not able to.

    The Employment Retirement System is not accepting this agreement. They say they were never notified of this agreement in 2013. The state and union both say the fault is with the ERS.
    But, in my mind it is their fault for not having arranged this with the ERS.
     
  7. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    There are signatures from the state and the head of the union on the form.
     
  8. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    The union has pretty much stopped corresponding with me. My last communication asked them to send/email me a statement as to what they have done to solve this situation and what their conclusions are. They emailed back that they would do this. That was approx. 2 months ago. I have sent f/u emails to no avail.
     
  9. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,032
    Likes Received:
    496
    Trophy Points:
    83
    It maybe should have been communicated to you in 2013, but the net result would be the same. The agreement between the employer and union governed things which the employer and union have control over. Neither one has control over the pension system. Even if they wanted to, it is highly unlikely ERS even could have legally negotiated additional seniority with either the employer or union.
     
  10. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
     
  11. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thanks so much for your time.
     
  12. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
     
  13. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    My question now is since I wasn't notified in 2013 that I would only get partial seniority back as far as pay but would not get my years of service back, do I have an recourse to sue for punitive damages? (Breach of contract).
    As a note of interest, I was offered my position back a few months prior to this agreement being settled (because I was on the recall list and another employee had left service) and I turned the position down because I knew I would have to 'earn my years back' and work for 5 more years. When this agreement came up I was 64 and accepted it with the understanding that when it stated I would get my "seniority" back that it implied years of service. I believed I would be able to retire at 66 as I only needed 2 more years. At this point, I will have to work until I am 69 to receive my retirement.
    When I was laid off in 2009, the word 'seniority' meant everything in deciding who would stay and who had to go. Seniority was all about who had the most years of service.
    When this agreement stated I would get my seniority back I had no reason to question it.
    What are your thoughts on this?
     
  14. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,032
    Likes Received:
    496
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Been down this road many a time with employees. It isn't a breach of contract because it wasn't their contract to breach. The rules and regulations for the retirement plan are outside your employer's control. They are/were available to you as a member if you had any questions regarding the effect of your employment on membership or benefits. Yeah, you probably should have checked into it when you were laid off and then offered reinstatement. You did not and it is too late to do so now. It also would not change anything because the eligibility rules are what they are. Seniority with an employer is not at all the same as eligibility in the retirement plan. Had you taken the other job you might have picked up where you left off as far as retirement, but would have lost the seniority with your employer. At most you would have a few more months of service time toward retirement and perhaps fewer benefits as far as your day to day work life.
     
  15. Beverly

    Beverly Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    OK, well thanks for your quick response.
     

Share This Page